Waiting is excruciating. As fans, injuries are possibly the most frustrating part of sports.
However, in this case, the feeling are shared by more than just fans. For the Mavericks, the wait has been just as tortuous.
Last year, Rodrigue Beaubois was an energetic spark off the bench, an explosive player who required your eyes glued to the screen when he was in because it was impossible to know which highlight he would provide next. However, much to the chagrin of many, many Dallas fans, he was held back from any meaningful, defined role throughout the season, instead appearing in games seemingly on the whim of Coach Carlisle. Could he have played such a role well? His 50/40/80% shooting gives some evidence that he may have been able to, but that is a debate that has been worn old already.
This year, however, was going to be different. This was going to the season for Roddy's emergence. There was even some serious evidence he was may have been the favorite to start at the 2 on opening night. Unfortunately, due to a broken fifth metatarsal suffered in a Team France practice and several subsequent delays in his recovery, this so far has all been for naught, because Beaubois has not even been cleared for even light activities on the court as of yet.
With the long absence of Beaubois, more and more people seem to be forgetting just how special this kid's skills are, and more importantly, how big of an impact he can have on this Mavericks team upon his return. At this point, with his injury looking to stretch on for at least another month, its becoming easier to proclaim that he will not have an impact this year, and that the Mavericks should trade him for a veteran player who can help put this team over the top while Dirk still has years left in his tank. While last year, the general consensus seemed to be that he was untradeable except for a true superstar like LeBron, more and more people seem willing to offer him up for someone like Kevin Martin if such a trade presented itself. Well, though someone like Martin could potentially help this Maverick team, let's not forget that while Roddy may not be as good of a basketball player, he does have a skill that is not easily replaced.
No, I'm not talking about his shooting. His leaping ability is nice and all for a 6'2" guard, but it also is not game-changing. His ability to penetrate into the lane almost at will, though, is something the Mavericks simply do not have on this team. In fact, the only player who even gets close to fitting this bill is JJ Barea, but he mainly does it by a gritty determination to do so, not by physical speed and quickness that is leaps and bounds above all the other prime athletes in the NBA. People who can beat their man over and over again typical excel in the NBA, and seen from Roddy's rookie season, he looks to be no exception. Why is this so important for the Mavericks, though, that they would need to keep him? Well, first off, finding explosive athletes like him is not as common as one might think. I'm not talking about a player who likes to drive the ball, but players who physically cannot be guarded one on one successfully throughout a game. People such as Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Rajon Rondo, Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams come to mind. How does the NBA stop them? Either sag off them so far that they have to take jumpers, or make sure to bring help defense every time they drive.
In the case of Beaubois, I don't think the first option is very viable, unless they want him to hitting nine threes in a game. Option two? This is where he becomes so important to the Mavericks.
Its nothing new to say that the Dallas Mavericks are a team of jump shooters. They are very, very good at it. Between Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, as well as Caron Butler, this is one of the best mid range jump shooting in the league. Now, obviously the easiest jump shot is the open one. The best way to get it? Have another player penetrate, suck the defense in, and kick the ball out. Hmm, does that sound suspiciously like some player the Mavericks have and that this article has been talking about?
OK, yes, a lot of this seems obvious. Of course Roddy will open up the floor for the Mavericks' shooters, and of course this will help out. But realize that Kevin Martin, Andre Iguodala, even Carmelo won't be able to do this as effectively. Sure, at times they will draw two players. Everyone does. But they don't have the Frenchman's blinding speed or blink-and-you-miss-him quickness. Roddy is not better than those players, but he does provide something they can't.
At times, I wonder if that's all this offense need, one creator who can get Dirk and Caron open looks from fifteen feet, who can get the two Jasons open long balls, who can actually force the defense to respect his driving ability by finishing with crafty layups, crazy reverses, and calculated floaters. And let's not forget he can also knock down the jumper when its Dirk's or Terry's turn to draw two men. This is why everyone feel in love with him last year, and why the hopes were so high entering this season.
Am I guaranteeing that Roddy will average 20 points and 7 assists per game after his return from injury? Not at all. I have no clue what he'll do, and while I'd like to think his injury will quickly be behind him when he returns early next year, nobody really knows that. Certainly, its possible that tomorrow, we receive the word that he has been shut down for the year. Cross your figures that this is not the case, but it's a possibility. Just realize that he's got athleticism like few others in this league, and that's not something one can just go out and buy for $1.99 at the local grocery store.
I think the Mavericks know this. After one workout, he had instantly become their draft day target. Any trade involving Beaubois would have to be thought long and hard about, because not every guard have alley oops run for them, go from half court to scoring on a layup in three seconds, or compile a highlight reel of above the rim rejections. They've seen him do this and so much more.
I just want to be sure that we, as fans, realize this as well. Because even though it's agonizing now, the wait will eventually be over.