If you’re a regular reader of this site, there is exactly an 96.434% chance that you are a fan of Rodrigue Beaubois. Most of you are at least in the camp that wouldn’t mind seeing more minutes for Roddy, if not militant supporters in the campaign to get him more PT. In principle, I agree. Beaubois has played at a higher level than anyone could have reasonably expected from him, and he’s succeeded in almost every capacity this season.
But getting from wanting more minutes for Roddy on a conceptual level to actually carving some out for him in the rotation is a bit tricky. Mostly because only a small amount of Beaubois’ success this season has come while playing the point.
Take a look at the Mavs’ most played lineups involving Beaubois this season. You have to go all the way down to the tenth most played lineup to find one where Beaubois is the true point guard. We’ve seen Roddy trigger the break, we’ve seen him run the point for specific sets, and we’ve seen the Mavs choose to have the ball go through him at times. Almost all of those opportunities came with a safety net, though, either in the form of Jason Kidd or J.J. Barea. Those are the players the Mavs are putting on the floor to run the offense, not Beaubois. His job has been to score, score, score, and he’s done that spectacularly. But if you’re looking for significant stretches of the game where Roddy is actually running a team (a concept I touched upon in the last installment of Moving Pictures), you’re not likely to find it. That’s not what he’s been called upon to do and because of that, who’s to say whether he can or can’t do it effectively with the playoffs just around the corner?
Barea’s had significant problems of his own, and he’s been woefully inconsistent. I’m not arguing that he should get the nod over Beaubois in all circumstances, but merely trying to help us all understand why the most dynamic Maverick is idling away on the bench. It’s not because Beaubois doesn’t deserve more minutes, but because they’re harder and harder to come by on the wing, where Roddy has to compete with Jason Terry, Caron Butler, and Shawn Marion. Each of those guys is a 36-minute caliber player, regardless of the minutes they’re actually getting. They deserve more, just like Roddy deserves more, but something has to give and for now that something is the minutes of the rook. It’s not what we want and maybe it isn’t fair, but until Beaubois becomes a more consistent option at point guard, it’s what we’ve got.
Carlisle obviously has a firmer understanding of Beaubois’ ability to run the point than we do, if only due to a matter of resources. We’re, at best, dissecting game tape and stats and trying to decipher his effectiveness. Rick has the benefit of a full-time coaching staff, the ability to not only observe practice but to dictate it, and the world’s greatest video resource on top of all that. I’m not saying that NBA head coaches are infallible, but when it comes to things like this they certainly have a leg up on the rest of us.
Mavs fans seem to trust Carlisle with countless other aspects of management, and he’s a fantastic coach. He knows what he’s doing in this case, because even though Beaubois could stand to get an extra minute or two here or there, he’s remaining committed to a fluid point guard rotation. That’s the key. By saying that Beaubois hasn’t played all that many minutes at the point this year, I’m not saying he shouldn’t get his chances. I’m saying that if nothing else, Carlisle should remain open to the possibility of playing either guy depending on the circumstances. You know how I feel about a coach’s ability to adapt in-game, and this is really no different. The only incumbent should be Jason Kidd. After that, if Barea can make something of his minutes, he’ll continue to earn time. If he can’t, then Kidd should fill out his time card for overtime or Carlisle should give a not to Beaubois on the bench.
Based on what we’ve seen of him this year, we know that Beaubois has the talent and the ability to take that job. Most Mavs fans are confident that if given the proper opportunity, he would. What’s more important right now, though, isn’t Carlisle making a commitment one way or another, but continuing to operate under the most meritocratic system possible. I think it’s okay to make them sweat in this case, as long as the minutes situation doesn’t create a problem where there needn’t be one. Maybe prior play will give either Barea or Beaubois the benefit of the doubt, but the inspiration for Carlisle’s rotations should be based on production in the moment. There are nights when Barea’s familiarity with the team is more important, and there are nights when Beaubois’ scoring will be essential. The trick is figuring out which are which, and that’s where Mavs fans are left trusting in Carlisle’s judgment.