Up next in the Mavs Moneyball Player Previews feature is Rodrigue Beaubois. I went a little long in profiling the enigmatic guard from Guadalupe, so I'll eschew the normal player introduction and get right to the denser stuff. Stats and highlights after the jump:
Let's pretend for a minute that Roddy Beaubois is not the guy who scored 40 points as a rookie against Golden State, or the guy Mark Cuban called "untouchable" during that first season, or the guy who when he finally returned from injury midway his second season had reached almost mythical status amongst Mavs fans who saw the "Free Roddy B" movement as the missing ingredient to a championship season(ironically, it would be benching Roddy for good in the playoffs that may have catapulted them to title glory). Let's pretend he's just a guy, just a 24-year kid basically: a former 25th overall pick who began this past season with less than 1200 regular minutes under his belt as a professional. For that guy, career highs in points, assists, rebounds, steals and blocks, and a very respectable 15.39 PER(fourth on the team) doesn't sound so bad, does it?
Unfortunately, for most Mavs fans, Roddy isn't that guy. He's the guy who tantalizes, showing promise of much greater success than he's yet enjoyed, but displays such inconsistency that for many his third season is viewed, perhaps accurately, as a failure. Beaubois teased Mavs fans again last year, but as the year wore on and injuries opened the door for Roddy Buckets to take ahold of his place in the rotation, which he most certainly did not, we may have finally come to the point where the allure of potential no longer justifies the expense of time and energy spent awaiting its realization.
Against Utah in the first full month of the season, Beaubois electrified, scoring 17 points on 9 shots in just 18 minutes, adding doubles of assists, rebounds, and blocks, against only one turnover. He drove to the basket aggressively, but was not out of control, and was a hawk on defense. This was the Beaubois we all wanted and hoped for. The next two games he scored 11 points on 13 shots, and just generally looked lost: firing up long bricks, turning the ball over, and fouling out of frustration. This was pretty much how Roddy's season went, with every positive step forward being followed by a step back. In March, with the home stretch coming and the team minus an injured Delonte West, and resting Jason Kidd for stretches to keep him fresh for the postseason, Beaubois had his best chance to prove himself to the coaching staff and his teammates. With injuries supposedly behind him, and the lockout shrinking fast in the rear view mirror, it was time to stop making excuses and just play. That in four playoff games Roddy entered only two and played just 12 minutes, more than half coming in garbage time of the blowout game 3, speaks volumes about how well the organization believes Roddy acquitted himself.
Following Roddy has been a rollercoaster ride. From the playoff game against San Antonio as a rookie, when Roddy entered and nearly led an unbelievable comeback, to all the up and down oscillation since, getting a proper handle on who Roddy is makes for a difficult task. Despite the disappointed tone of this post, Beaubois did demonstrate some new tricks in his third year, like establishing a career high in assist rate and career low(meaning good) in turnover rate. Doing both in the same year is not easy and deserves commendation. Beaubois also continued to be a thief on defense, averaging nearly 2 steals per 36 minutes, and showed off his tremendous athleticism by averaging nearly 5 rebounds and a block per 36 minutes, which is absolutely ridiculous for a guard barely over 6 foot(and on a per-minute basis put him in the top five among players under 6'5 in both categories). The idea of Roddy the stat-stuffer may surprise some, but this is why many comprehensive metrics look on him more favorably than the average fan impression might.
Now, although Roddy can make plays on the defensive end, Synergy, 82 games and most observers aren't suggesting he's a standout defender, yet. The Mavericks averaged 2.3 points per 100 possessions more with him on the court than off, and I can recall several occasions where players or coaches became visibly upset with him, either for being in the wrong position or not rotating quickly enough. He seems to have an especially tough time fighting through screens, which led him to be punished on pick and roll plays, and what doesn't help him is that he has a tendency to exhibit pretty terrible body language. When he is down or frustrated everyone knows it. Despite all the positive contributions he makes on the court, Roddy can come off as moody, when his shot isn't falling or if he's whistled for a foul he thinks he didn't deserve. This has to change, especially now that he'll be a four year veteran.
Speaking of shots not falling, compared to his rookie season, the biggest regression for Roddy, obviously, came in his outside shooting. It seems fairly clear now that the 40% he shot from three as a rookie was a bit of a fluke, and as I cautioned against Roddy-lovers after his rookie year, the 50+% overall from the field was largely due to an unsustainably high shooting percentage at the rim(160 pound guards don't shoot 68% at the basket, it just doesn't happen), which also saw regression. Now, I do think Roddy is better than the 29% three point shooter he was last year, so there is reason for some optimism there. For him to make any kind of real improvement as an offensive player, though, I think he has to improve his shot selection.
Percentage of shots at the rim in '09-'10: 37.7%
Percentage of long 2's in '09-'10: 13.2%
Percentage of shots at the rim in '11-'12: 29.7%
Percentage of long 2's in '11-'12: 21.4%
This shouldn't need too much explanation. As a rookie, Roddy attacked the basket with far more regularity and took far fewer long 2's than he did last year, and what is interesting is that the rest of his shot distribution(in-between 2's, three's) remained the same, so, basically, all those forays to the rim turned into long jumpers. Why is that bad? Well, a shot at the basket is the highest percentage shot for just about everyone. And the long 2 is just about the lowest percentage shot for everyone not named Dirk Nowitzki. For Roddy this is especially true because he shot 60% at the rim last year, and shot even better from there his previous two seasons, which is fantastic for a small guard. Clearly his speed, length and leaping ability help him finish. So why doesn't he do it more often? I really can't figure that part out. Roddy converted long 2's at a decent rate(37%), but that's hardly great. He's no Jason Terry, in other words.
I was curious to see how dramatically Roddy's season numbers would have gone if he'd been more aggressive in going to the basket, so I did this:
I took Roddy's shot distribution from his rookie year and applied it to his third season, giving him an extra 8% of his overall shots at the rim. That came out to an extra 1.68 shots per game at the rim, approximately 89 shots on the season. Now, as I said, Roddy shot 60% at the basket last year, but it would be unrealistic to expect that rate to continue with so many extra shots, so, I gave a fairly conservative estimation of one conversion per five shots for those 89 attempts. Even with that, Roddy's field goal percentage lept from 42.2% to 46%, and his true shooting percentage from an awful 49.6% to 53.2%, putting him right in the middle of the pack for guards.
These numbers are obviously highly theoretical, but they demonstrate the crux of the issue with Roddy. On offense, he has one exceptional skill: his ability to convert at the rim. By neglecting that ability in favor of the lowest value shot in the game, he is doing himself a huge disservice. Most NBA players who thrive on the long jumper do so because they don't have the athletic gifts to get a better shot off. Roddy is obviously not one of those guys. Rick Carlisle is known for giving players freedom on offense, and with young exciting players there is a tendency to say "well, this guy needs to have the shackles taken off so he can just go". Maybe the opposite is true for Roddy. I'm most certainly not a coach, but my opinion is that maybe Roddy needs someone to sit him down and say "no long 2's today." See what happens.
Rick Carlisle made a few heads turn last week when he said he thought this year Roddy would "put it all together". Part of Carlisle's job is to motivate, so your guess is as good as mine if this is simply that or an actual honest-to-goodness prediction. The bevy of guards on the roster won't make it easy for Beaubois to earn minutes, and hair-pulling mistakes won't likely be tolerated for too long. I find the relationship between Carlisle and Roddy fascinating. They've had jawing sessions in full view of cameras, and yet Carlisle in the media has been one of Roddy's biggest(only?) supporters, even as the bloom has seemingly left his rose. I can't tell you if Roddy's failure to develop is entirely his own fault, or if Carlisle, who has a reputation for benching young players, is also to blame. This might explain Carlisle's comments. I think Carlisle knows that Roddy is talented, and that if he cannot motivate him it will be one of the few black marks on his otherwise excellent coaching resume. After two offseasons of hoping for a breakout only to be let down, chances are there won't be too many star predictions for Roddy this time around. Still, he is a useful player and if Dallas is too have anything resembling a smooth transition in the post-Dirk years, molding young talent is a must.