Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
For a lot of the day the MMB braintrust--8 or 9 of the brightest Mavs Minds in the game, depending on how you count Kirk "Two Minds" Henderson--has been involved in a prolonged debate about the merits and future of Ovinton J'Anthony "Juice" Mayo.
It was not an easy discussion. No real consensus was reached. But ultimately, we could all agree on one thing.
Sometimes you've got to give a little Juice...to your ride.
Here's the thing. OJ Mayo is at once the best offensive player not named Dirk the Mavs have had since maybe the 90s, and probably the worst pick and roll player with his high level of usage I've ever seen. He's a deadeye three-point shooter and someone who has made some super difficult finishes in traffic, and he looks like no one ever taught him how to dribble. He legitimately averaged 4 turnovers a game in December and has had eight games this season with 6 or more. Eight. With six or more.
What are you going to do with a turnover-prone Mayo?
Well, one easy suggestion was this:
Use Mayo as a Spot-Up Guy
So it was suggested, bruited about, that maybe Mayo would be better off as a catch and shoot guy. This would certainly be the easiest way to keep many of the positives of Mayo's game without allowing the negatives breathing space. It's a reasonable idea. I don't have the numbers, but my guess is, that's mostly how the Grizz used him. This season he's averaging a huge 1.3 points per play as a spot-up shooter, according to MySynergySports.com, 11th in the game, and he remains number 1 in iso points per play, at 1.19. This could definitely work, but...
Mayo is 25. It's his fifth season, and by 25 a lot of these guys are as good as they're going to get. However, it's Mayo's first year as a go-to offensive option. He hasn't even been a starter in 2 years. Do we really think Mayo can't get better? He already has, obviously, he scored 20+ 6 times last year, has done so 15 times already this year, and had 30+ and a 40 point game to boot. He may not be able to learn to control himself, dribbling or passing the ball, but is it so hard to believe there's time?
This overall led to something like a consensus, though for different reasons. The consensus, more or less, was:
Let the Juice Loose
Whether you believe that Mayo could become something greater, or whether you're pretty sure he can't, the question about what to do with Mayo may actually be a moot one. He's on a one year contract and the Mavericks have an uphill climb to make the playoffs. The sad truth is this:
Finding out what the Mavericks have in OJ Mayo may be turn out to be the only important thing the Mavericks do this year. Whether to extend him, how much to offer him, whether they have found a piece for the future or whether Mayo's errors are so uncorrectable that they need to be someone else's problem, someone who'll pay more for the plusses, care less about the minuses--that may be the best thing 2013 does for this team.
So, let him play.