As the season began, Rodrigue Beaubois found himself on the fringe of the Mavericks’ rotation. He managed to earn spot minutes for a Dallas team with considerable guard depth, but played too sporadically to earn a consistent role. But rather suddenly, Beaubois was given occasion to return to a level of importance he hadn’t seen since his rookie season; when Vince Carter injured his foot in mid-January, followed soon by an injury to Jason Kidd, a opportunity arose for Beaubois to distinguish himself once again as being worthy of a greater billing.
Beaubois didn’t immediately seize the opportunity allowed by Carter’s absence, but in typical fashion, he played well enough to hover around a possible breakthrough. Despite his continued struggles with consistency, Beaubois’ play improved for the most part, highlighted by a 17-point performance (on only nine shots) against the Jazz. It would be a stretch to describe his performances as particularly strong during the four-game period immediately following Carter’s injury (in which Beaubois rose to fourth-guard status), but he filled his role competently. The defensive effort that Rick Carlisle has demanded of Beaubois appeared present, and the team won three of four games.
Then, following Kidd’s injury (which is likely to keep the Mavs’ starting point man out of the lineup for another week), Beaubois’ role once again shifted into a realm of greater prominence. Beaubois started at point guard against the Utah Jazz — his first start since April 11th, 2011.
Beaubois’ performance against the Jazz can best be described as a vintage “What if?” game. Beaubois was stellar, as he knifed through the Jazz defense with ease. He scored and created for others at will, and even put an exclamation point on the virtuoso performance with four blocks. It was the best of Rodrigue Beaubois, and emblematic of the player many still hope he can become.
But perhaps Sunday night’s game against the Spurs displayed a more manageable and realistic vision of how Beaubois might operate in the near future. Early on, as the Mavericks’ dominated, he struggled to make open jumpers, despite being just days removed from a game in which he made the same shots with ease. Yet what could have been a discouraging performance from Beaubois morphed into something encouraging due to his strong (and essential) late-game play.
Beaubois checked into the game with 9:29 remaining in regulation, following a thoroughly stagnant run from the Mavericks’ offense. Beaubois then proceeded to score or assist on five of the Mavericks’ next seven baskets, serving as a key spark of energy to an offense previously bereft of life beyond Jason Terry. The most important play contributed by Beaubois may have been his rapid-fire layup with 29 seconds remaining, the quickness of which afforded the Mavericks an opportunity to play defense (without fouling) and still have time for a tying final possession. The Mavericks went on to win an entertaining overtime game against their long-time rivals, largely due to season-best nights from Terry and Vince Carter.
Though Carter and Terry had far better statistical nights than Beaubois, the young guard’s resiliency and adaptation may have been the most encouraging aspects of the Mavericks’ overall performance. Instead of deferring and hoping for the best on a night in which his jumper lacked rhythm (as we’ve seen too often in the past), Beaubois adapted his play during the later moments of the contest. During the late third and fourth quarters, Beaubois turned to his innate speed to create for both himself and his teammates. As important as the key baskets created by Beaubois down the stretch were, the way he earned those opportunities could hold more long-term importance. The success of these possessions was not reliant on a hot shooting night or flashy transition finishes. Instead, Beaubois used the fundamental tools he possesses to make smart basketball plays. 14 points on 7-of-16 shooting is nothing special, but on Sunday night, Beaubois’ seven assists (five in the second half) to one turnover — a ratio echoed in Beaubois’ 24 minutes against the Phoenix Suns on Monday — certainly is.
For the next week, and likely much of the season, Rodrigue Beaubois will be asked to function in a key role on a competitive team. Thriving while in rhythm has come easily for Beaubois early in his career. Now, in his third season, he must learn to persevere in the face of adversity by applying his tools in an adaptive, consistent, and beneficial way.