OJ Mayo has been on point for the last two games for sure. He killed it Monday night on his birthday, scoring 32 points on 12 of 18 shooting. He shot 70-percent from three Saturday night while pouring in a game leading 30 points.
Sure he’s had back-to-back 30 point nights before, back in his rookie season, the one he referred to as “the good year,” he did it.
I was one of those that would have liked to add Mayo to D-Will with Dirk back when the free agency period was blowing up. So I was pretty happy that he was the consolation prize to D-Will anyway.
I like his willingness to take shots, big, small whatever, he wants the ball and could very well fill in that Jason Terry roll that we all knew we would be missing.
To be honest, kinda disappointed that the house hasn’t been packed the last two games that he’s set it off from three. Would really like for him to get a sense of what Mavs nation can transcend when things are really rocking. Maybe that will happen when Dirk gets back on the court.
That being said, I want people to temper their expectations when it comes to Mayo and realize it might not last.
1. Mayo doesn’t shoot a ton of free-throws: Now you might say “So what! He’s killing it from three.” Shooters are streaky. That’s the way it is. When you are confident, in the zone and hitting threes you are unstoppable; but when you go cold, the ice-water in your veins makes you look like a stiff.
Remember all those head scratching nights we spent wondering why the Spurs, or Heat or Warriors spent so much time at the free-throw line and the Mavs didn’t? Then we figured out that a jump-shooting team typically isn’t going to make it to the stripe. A shooter can find a groove there, he can gain some confidence, adjust and tweak his shot from there so it all lines up later in the game. He can develop a shooting rhythm from the line.
Mayo averages about 2.8 free-throws a game and quite honestly makes a great number of them when he is there at 2.3. His percentage this season is just under 90, which fits perfectly in that JET mold. But you remember those nights when you just desperately needed a guy to drive to the basket to slow draw some fouls and establish a slashing to-the-basket presence and JET couldn’t do it? By the way he averaged 2.9 free-throws per game. Expect to have some similar nights to that.
2. Dirk is still out: With Dirk gone, the entire team is looking for every contributor and anybody to take the lead dog position. Vince Carter is filling in well alongside Shawn Marion as the veteran in-house leader with all of these young players, and new-to-Dallas vets the Mavs are rolling out. But both of them are past their elite status prime and are almost at the point of becoming grizzled.
So they aren’t going to score 18-35 a night for you.
Mayo can do it. He can pour score from anywhere and has just the type of mentality to take on a leading scorer role.
But when Dirk comes back is he going to be willing to take less shots and score less points? Is he going to be willing to have an off shooting night, struggle but still win? It’s tough for somebody to establish they are the alpha then just take a backseat. Plus, look at what happened in Memphis when he wasn’t starting every game as the elite star.
Then again, if there is a franchise that can put square pegs in round holes and make a tasty cake out it (I know) the Mavs can. Either way, Dirk’s return could hinder Mayo’s growth on this team, while at the same time opening up shots for him.
3. Defenses will eventually figure the Mavericks out: Right now, with so many guys on the team who ARE willing to contribute and ARE willing to distribute, it’s hard for a defense to key in on any specific shooter to stop. It’s not like they know they have to stop Dirk or JET. They know Marion, Carter, Collison, Mayo, Crowder, the list goes on, could shoot the ball at any time. That opens the floor up a little bit. It require more man up D and allows for those break-downs on defense also. Rick Carlisle has established an unselfish presence on the court which allows for that extra pass which often times does allow a shooter like Mayo to be wide open. You saw it in the Charlotte game and saw it even more in the Portland game. Collison is really helping out in that respect as well.
The more tape teams get on the Mavs, the more those shots will become contested and the tighter the window will be.
For now, I’ll take it. Give me something to cheer about, right? The Cowboys sure aren’t. While I want Mavs fans to fall in love with this guy, who could be the future of this franchise, keep an eye out for these things that could spoil Mayo later in the season, that way you know it can be fixed.
Cory Mageors Co-hosts The K&C Masterpiece on 105.3 The Fan weekends from 10-2.
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