Ask me about stocks, and chances are you will get a blank expression. I'm clueless. But I know enough to see that Rodrigue Beaubois's stocks are plummeting to rock bottom.
It makes sense, though. Beaubois's stock was ridiculously high in the first place. His injury was hugely disappointing, but upon his return people seemed to expect him to save the team. He was going to replace Terry, he was going to be the second option, he was going to score double figures and not lose any of his efficiency.
The expectations were ridiculous. He's a second year prospect who should merely have been hoping to build on his rookie year and not be swamped in the expectations of becoming the second best player on the team. Add in almost six months where Beaubois was grounded from basically all on court activities, and he was put in an extremely tough position.
But not only has Beaubois failed to meet the lofty projections that were put out for him, he's failed to even meet his production from last year. He's struggling mightily, and with the postseason approaching, the big question regarding him is whether or not his potential impact is worth using him when the games finally start carrying meaning again.
The Prospect In Beaubois
Beaubois is a 23 year old 6'2" combo guard. It is obvious that he possesses the tools to become a true point guard, but right now lacks the mentality and the experience to run a team. He has a scorer's mentality, although its possible the mentality may come from the coaching staff and his usage primarily as a two guard.
His biggest asset as a player is his athleticism. He is lighting quick and accelerates in a blink of an eye. He's not just a straight line sprinter, but can change directions without losing much speed. He also has a 40" vertical, which allows him to even throw down alley oops effortlessly despite his diminutive size while also hanging in the air to finish reverse layups. He also has a 6'9" wingspan, something that just accentuates his innate athleticism.
This athleticism serves him best on the fast break, where he is nearly unstoppable. He can blow by, jump above, or simply finish against basically any single defender that he has to face, and even if he fails to get to the rim has several shots which he can use to score points in the paint. These same tools serve him well when driving to the basket in a half court setting, where he can score with some truly spectacular finishes.
His jump shot is harder to figure out. His catapult motion is a bit unorthodox, but the stroke is even and smooth. His 40% shooting his rookie season shows that he does has a solid long ball, and his breakout game in Golden State showed that he had the ability to get hot. However, so far in 2011, Beaubois has hit just 24 of his 77 attempts.
His mid range did not really exist his rookie year, but he has shown it more and more in 2011. Unfortunately, despite the increased quantity, it has not emerged as a true weapon.
Defensively, there's still plenty of work to be done, but Beaubois has increased by leaps and bounds since 2009. He still will get caught up on picks and he still will get beaten on a drive, but most good defenders do. Beaubois often plays his best defense when assigned to one specific player, a recent example being his 37 minute stint against the Warriors where he harried and pestered Monta Ellis to ten missed shots and five turnovers. He's shown the ability to anticipate passes and, helped by his long arms, get his hands on balls. Quite simply, Roddy just struggles to bring the same defensive performance from one game to the next.
His main problems with playing the point are decision making and general basketball knowledge. Beaubois can make almost every pass on the floor, and at times shows a knack for setting up teammates perfectly, but too often forces passes or does not recognize the proper place to pass.
How To Turn Talent Into Production
So far, its been optimism. However, its not all a walk in the park. Clearly Beaubois is off. Way off. Since playing the Lakers on March 31st, Rodrigue has shot just 11-39, and even that is amplified by some buckets in garbage time in Portland which do not have nearly the same weight as him producing in a real game. Try to think of a signature game from this year? There are not many to choose from. Roddy has had some decent games, but he's had as many terrible ones.
Could it simply be confidence? Excelling in non-pressure garbage time situations, playing well against weaker opponents, but then being a disaster when facing a tough opponent? No, from what I've seen of Roddy its not just his confidence he lost, at least not at first. What I saw was Roddy lose confidence in his three pointer. One thing that people don't realize is just how dependent Beaubois is on his three pointer. The first game I remember really being impressed in his rookie year was his 14 point performance against Detroit. He didn't miss a shot from the field, but early on hit two threes. Roddy's 24 point outburst against the Bulls, including 18 in the 3rd quarter, is easily one of his best games. Yes, he shot just 1-6 from deep in that game, but he had hit six threes in just 11 attempts in the previous two games. Is a reminder of Golden State even necessary? Its easy to get caught up in the three pointers, but Roddy made six two point field goals in that game as well, mainly driving to the basket .
Roddy does not need to hit threes to play well, but he needs the threat of a three pointer. His 31% three point shooting is positively non-threatening. He clearly can shoot the ball, but not right now. That staple of his game failing has completely disrupted his game, and now, just a little bit, it looks like his overall confidence is slipping too. He's passive with the ball and looking tentative when he does take shots. As a result, he is simply the worst player on the floor at times, and yet he's still playing twenty minutes a night.
That leads to the biggest question of all here: Is it time to bench the Roddy B experiment for the year? Does he need just a few more games, a few more practices, and he'll be able to right himself? Clearly, if he could somehow right himself before the playoffs, he changes how this team looks. The Mavericks' guard play is the biggest weakness headed into the postseason, and if Roddy could start contributing anything at all, he'd instantly help the team. Clearly, he needs to continue receiving the minutes he's getting for the final three games of the season, regardless of how bad he is playing, on the off chance he can get back on track.
So let's go back to one thing: expectations. So much has been expected of Roddy, because he has elite skills which can help a team if he is harnessing them correctly. However, come playoffs, its time to give up those preseason expectations of him. Let Roddy come off the bench, make him prove he deserves minutes, and maybe do not even play him in some games. Maybe, just maybe, he'll be able to get back some of the rookie magic that's been sorely missing. And if so, watch out.