The future looked extremely bright as Rodrigue Beaubois averaged 20.0 minutes, 10.6 points and 4.0 assists in his first three appearances of the season as he returned from a broken foot. While battling conditioning issues, initial performances looked impressive considering the guard was coming back after missing nearly seven months due to his broken foot. Things quickly turned bleak as Beaubois only averaged 13.6 minutes, 4.3 points and 1.7 assists in the three games prior to the game against the Indiana Pacers on Friday. In the game against the Pacers, Beaubois had 13 points in only 11 minutes of action.
Fans are in a state of panic based on the roller coaster performances and the minutes played statistic. Those same fans probably needed to be talked off the ledge when they hear Coach Rick Carlisle speak on Beaubois' situation. "If his play warrants more minutes," Carlisle said, "he'll play more minutes." Concern continues to mount as people wonder if this situation will be similar to last year where knee-jerking moves were made and Beaubois would see game action and then have to go several games before seeing the court again. To those of you who are concerned, calm down.
It makes sense to keep Beaubois in the starting lineup as he is another weapon that can take pressure of Dirk Nowitzki. By doing so, it will force the opponent to respect the offensive skill-set that Beaubois has shown with the intent to take pressure off of Nowitzki. The French guard is no longer a surprise to the opposition, he has their respect and that should be considered somewhat of a victory. It has been discussed ad nauseam about the idea that Nowitzki has lacked a running mate that can take pressure off of him. When it comes to the playoffs, teams will take away part of your strength which means you have to work with whatever is left on your roster. At this point, Beaubois clearly is not ready for that kind of responsibility, but the surrounding depth on the team can help pick up the slack.
Fans remember hearing various members of the Mavericks organization saying that everyone is excited to have Beaubois back. They also remember hearing that he would bring another dimension to the team and they would benefit from his return. All of that is happening to an extent but the situation is different due to the overall depth of the team. People remember the praise and anticipation that was built around Beaubois' return, but people also forget the tempered expectations that were set along the way as well. Here is what General Manager Donnie Nelson said about Beaubois on January 19:
"Look, Roddy (Beaubois) is a sophomore, sophomores make mistakes. He’s got a big upside and a big future. He provides us some athletic punch, but it’s not like he’s going to show up in a white cape and turn everything around."
Beaubois has only played in 63 regular season games in his career and he returned this season without working in training camp with the rest of the team, that needs to be remembered as this process continues. He has the ability to shoot the lights out but he is actually in the midst of a shooting slump from long range. Beaubois shot 40.9% from three-point range in his rookie year and he is following that up by shooting 27.3% this year. "Coming into this it was clear to me there would be ups and downs," Carlisle said. "We're going to stay the course in terms of the approach for now. He is still a valuable piece to our team." You will not have to look very far to see success stories of players getting out of their shooting slumps (see JJ Barea and Peja Stojakovic). We will not jump the gun and put Beaubois in the class of one of the top five or six shooters of all-time as Carlisle has classified Stojakovic, but Beaubois can sure fit into Barea's shooting range which is respectable. Remember, Beaubois finished his rookie year shooting just over 50% from the field, 40% from three-point range and 80% from the free throw line.
“I knew it was not just going to be easy to come back,” Beaubois said. “I knew it was going to be tough. Sometimes it’s tough. I have to get my cardio back, my legs back. That’s the way it is.” Members of the media have seen "Roddy B." shoot the lights out on the practice court, it just has not found its way to the floor during game-time. Like JJ Barea and Peja Stojakovic, Rodrigue Beaubois continues to put extra shooting work in after practice so the results should show up in time. Until he is back in the groove, the second year guard needs to stick to what works best for and that would be utilizing his speed and athleticism to get into the lane. There is a distinct difference between shooter's amnesia and forcing up shots and it appears he is doing the latter. He needs to continue bringing that different dynamic by penetrating and playing within the systematic approach on offense.
With his ability to penetrate, Beaubois should use that to his advantage and create opportunities to go to the free throw line. He shot 52 free throws in his rookie year, he has yet to attempt a free throw this season. Players have always said that getting to the free throw line and seeing the ball go in the basket can instantly raise the confidence level when it comes to shooting. The aggressor will get the benefit of the doubt, so Beaubois needs to be aggressive while still playing within the system on offense and good results will follow.
For this season, the French guard is likely going to be a victim of circumstance as the overall depth of the team will restrict his ability to get a heavy dose of minutes. The players Beaubois would step in for would be JJ Barea and Jason Terry. Barea has been playing the best basketball of his life since January and Terry is emerging as the leader for the Sixth Man of the Year Award. "We're going to play the guys that will help us win whichever particular game we're playing,” Carlisle said after the game against Indiana. Players will continue to move in and out in a manner that is similar to line changes in hockey; Beaubois will be part that in and out process. He will keep himself ready by reviewing film with the coaching staff and work on a different part of his game in order to improve each and every day.
If anything, the depth should take the pressure off of Beaubois and allow him to go throw the ups and downs that come along the way from coming back from a major injury and learning the NBA game at the same time. To go out and expect Beaubois to run out of the tunnel and play 30 minutes a night and have performances like March 27, 2010 is just unrealistic.
Beaubois is actually getting the minutes that he could not get last season and he is a regular member of the rotation. He is still seen as a significant piece for the short term and the long term and this is just the first step of the process. The guard is healthy and has the support of the coach who promised to significantly increase his role from his rookie year. Beaubois has all of that going for him and the Mavericks have won 18 of their last 19 games. That should tell you that the Mavericks are rolling and Beaubois can continue to get better which will make the team better. So the question needs to be asked, what seems to be the problem?
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