But then Rodrigue Beaubois happened. Raining down threes, dropping tear drops in the lane and leaking out on the fastbreak. 40 points on just 22 shots and only 29 minutes of play. JUST 29 MINUTES. It's still one of the best individual performances in Mavericks history, the second highest game score (35.4) in the last three years for Dallas.
It was supposed to be a sign of things to come. That, combined with Beaubois' play against Derrick Rose ("He looks like a Tony Parker with a jump shot,") and spirited play in the 2010 playoffs against the Spurs made many around Dallas and the NBA think the Mavericks made the absolute steal of the 2009 draft.
But there was never a concrete stamp put on Beaubois, despite his stellar rookie season where he put up shooting splits of 51.8/40.9/80.8, there was just something...off. Beaubois was hitting long range jumpers that he never consistently hit before coming stateside and his defense never seemed all too great once he had to work around a screen or help out on the weak side.
Those little notes were neatly tucked away by just the pure athleticism and talent Beaubois possessed. Sadly, Beaubois joins Dominique Jones as the two enigmas on the Mavericks roster.
Both are combo guards that seem out of place at either the one or the two. Both display a great individual talent but then shrink when put in a 5-on-5 situation. Both still have long ways to go in grasping the basic team offensive and defensive principals in the NBA. And both can't shoot.
Since Beauboi's rookie season, he's shot 42.2% from the field and 29.5 percent from three, helping produce a rather anemic 49.6 true shooting percentage. Beaubois' jumper has gone drastically awry and there's no telling if it'll come back.
Luckily, Beaubois' shooting at the rim hasn't dipped too much. He still has virtually no midrange game though, taking almost little to no shots between the rim and arch and shooting poorly from that area to boot.
The silver lining is that as his minutes have increased, his turnovers have gone down and his assists are going up. The problem is it's still hard to determine where Beaubois contributes best: is he a true point, ready to set up a NBA half court offense? Or is he a scoring guard, who does best when he gets an isolation or pick on the wing and is let free to go to work. That part, the Mavericks coaching staff still needs to find out. Funny enough, barring an unseen injury, this will be Beaubois first full training camp since his rookie season. (injured in 2010, lockout in 2011.) That could pay off.
Then there's Jones, a guard who likes to get to the rim but can't finish when he gets there. That was the case for Jones in his rookie season, where he shot 25 percent at the rim according to Hoopdata. To his credit, Jones adjusted to the physicality and length of NBA defenders and shot 64.5 percent at the rim with increased attempts.
Jones just has virtually no game outside the painted area. His jumper has forced him to shoot under 40 percent from the field in both his seasons and while he's steady at the line, there's no reason for NBA defenses to play him for anything other than dribble penetration. Jones is a one trick pony without a trick that isn't particularly effective without anything to compliment his game.
His defense is pretty stout for a young player in one-on-one situations, but much like Beaubois, gets extremely worse when throwing in other players into the fray. Jones has trouble fighting through screens or rotating to the corner. He's shown signs of harrasing the ball handler on the pick and roll (mysynergysports.com says when Jones is guarding the pick and roll ball handler, the ball handler shoots 4-of-14 from the field. Unfortunately the sample size is just too small at this point.)
The worst part of deciphering where Jones or Beaubois are headed is that they haven't had too many opportunities to get better through game time. Dallas has had too many veteran guards in front of the duo (Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler, Vince Carter, Delonte West, DeShawn Stevenson) to really give either a good enough look.
That could change this off-season. Even if the Mavericks get Deron Williams or another free agent point guard, Terry, West, Carter and Kidd most likely won't be in the way and Jones and Beaubois could be fighting for prime back up spots (or in Beaubois' case, a shot in the starting lineup at the two guard.)
But will Mark Cuban let them see the roster before training camp hits? Beaubois and Jones don't hog down the payroll all too much, but still can provide some relief if things are getting desperate and Cuban wants to strike big. Who knows, Beaubois and Jones could be packaged with Lamar Odom to entice a team to part with an All-Star caliber player or a higher draft pick.
Maybe it was Cuban's words of declaring Beaubois "untouchable." It created an absurd expectation of Beaubois that he almost certainly won't be able to live up to. Beaubois could improve his jumper this season, keep his assist and turnover numbers steady and turn into a reliable 25-30 minute starter averaging anywhere between 15-18 points per game. Is that an All-Star? Probably not. It's certainly not "untouchable," but still pretty damn good value for the bottom of the first round.
Jones? If he could improve his jumper just marginally he could turn into a poor-man's J.J. Barea except without all the defensive liabilities, a nice back up guard that could give a winning team 15-25 minutes a night, depending on the situation.
Neither of these ceilings aren't that high and it's a shame after such promise we've seen from the duo. If another team sees more from the two guards, the Mavericks almost certainly have to move on and see what they can get.
It's time to let March 27, 2010 go. It ain't ever coming back, as much as we might dream.