[Manager's note: We will review the season and look ahead for all nine players currently under contract by the Dallas Mavericks, and Dirk, who is definitely going to re-sign. The five free agents will be reviewed the first week of June.]
About two hours before Game 7, Ricky Ledo is on the floor of the AT&T Center, shooting and running drills with fellow rookie guards Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel.
At one point, the assistant coach working with them barks out, telling the players to run a couple of full court sprints. Already near halfcourt, Ledo doesn't return to the baseline and just takes off from where he's standing -- a sly move that very nearly saved him a bit of running.
Unfortunately, the coach notices and Ledo recants with a quick trip to halfcourt and back. But for the unpolished rookie out of Providence College, it's just good to see he has the savvy to already start picking up veteran tricks.
See, "out of Providence College" doesn't really mean much, because Ledo was academically suspended for his entire freshman season and declared for the draft despite not playing a single game. This season, he only played 33 minutes with the Mavericks. He's got a ways to go before becoming an NBA player.
But there's a lot to like: he's a tall guard at 6-foot-6 who likes taking the ball to the basket. His wingspan is an average 6-foot-7 according to NBA.com, but he uses it all around the hoop, extending and scooping. He prefers going right, but you'll see flashes of a left hand in his highlights. His jump shot isn't consistent enough for the NBA yet, but his mechanics are excellent. Even from behind the NBA 3-point line, his release and form is effortless and the same every time. Many have marveled how he looks like a miniature Kevin Durant on the court, but he compares his game to Jamal Crawford, which is a bit more accurate a comparison. And best of all, he doesn't turn 22 until September -- this is a young kid with lots of time to mold his game.
As Ledo started learning this year, there's a lot more to basketball than just the basketball part. He bounced back and forth between the Mavericks and their D-League affiliate, the Texas Legends -- six different trips between the two, to be exact. Here are his stats:
2013-14 season grade: Incomplete
Contract: $2.8 million through 2016-17
Much to the dismay of Roddy B apologists looking for a new player to latch onto (and I mean that in the most endearing way possible), Ledo probably isn't looking at a role too much different from the one he has now next season. It's hard to overcome losing an entire season of college, and while it's possible we may see him come in as an offensive sparkplug here and there in 2014-15, no doubt his defense will still lag behind coach Carlisle's high demands.
Wherever he is, the key is for Ledo to soak up everything he can. He's not a bad athlete, but he's nothing more than average at an NBA level. He needs more than the 195 pounds his frame packs right now. There's no reason to doubt he can do it, but there's no guarantee, either. Hundreds of young players have talent. Making it in the NBA is another story.
But we're all rooting for him. It's about time the Mavericks "hit" on a prospect draft pick, you'd think. Ledo has a ways to go, but he's on the right track.
Here's what we wrote about Ricky Ledo during the season: Alan Smithee did his best to figure him out right after being drafted.
I previewed him to start this season while also complimenting the Dallas draft strategy taking a shot at a player with high upside with their second round pick.
A fantastic profile of Ledo by friend of the site, Bobby Karalla, can be found here.