Untouchable

Posted by Zachariah Roberts on February 22, 2013 under Commentary | 2 Comments to Read

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Zachariah Roberts is a basketball connoisseur of sorts and runs AllOutPress in his spare time.  If you wish to see more than just his analytical musings of the game, then feel free to watch him ramble on Twitter @TheZRoberts.

Rodrigue Beaubois was the next big thing; the evolutionary Tony Parker. In limited minutes (12.4 per contest), he used his quickness, length and solid outside stroke to a mount a 50-40-80 rookie season and steal meaningful playoff minutes for the Mavs in the ill-fated 2009-10 season. He was then made untouchable by a franchise with plenty of incentive to contend as soon as possible, and four years later, he’s rewarded that faith by becoming a bit-part player who largely sees the floor behind journeyman point guard Mike James

What happened?

In short: square peg, round hole. Beaubois has been asked to handle different responsibilities as his time with the team has progressed, and needless to say he hasn’t managed those transitions well.

During his minutes early in his career, Beaubois was not tasked with running the offense for the Mavericks. Even if he brought the ball up the floor, he was often not the offensive initiator, as the eight most-used lineups featuring Beaubois also included Jason Kidd or J.J. Barea next to him.

According to 82games.com Beaubois was nominally slotted as a point guard for 13% of the available minutes, and nominally slotted as a shooting guard for 3% of the available minutes. You can see Beaubois’ performance at both positions that season below:

Beaubois Rookie Season Production by Pos
Larger image here

The following year, Beaubois earned just 1% of the team’s minutes at shooting guard and each of the eight lineups he took part in most often were balanced in the backcourt by Kidd. The intent to cross-match the two guards was understandable, but Kidd — who was hardly a threat to dribble penetrate by that point – being on the floor meant that Beaubois was often covered by quicker defenders.

His numbers reflected as much. According to Synergy Sports Technology, Beaubois went from scoring 1.06 points per play (PPP) as a pick-and-roll ball handler (good enough for fourth best in the NBA, by Synergy’s ranking) to just 0.63 – some 160 ranks lower. Yet Beaubois still found occasion to showcase his shooting acumen by knocking down spot-up opportunities on a consistent basis; his final tally of 1.23 PPP finished 19th in the league, up from his 1.07 PPP and 80th place ranking from his rookie year.

The following season, Beaubois received a nice reprieve. Of his eight most featured lineups, Kidd was a part of only one, Jason Terry six and Vince Carter the remaining one. Terry being in the lineup with Beaubois so often meant that the then 23-year-old guard was defended by the opponent’s poorer backcourt defender, thus allowing Beauboit to exploit certain matchups.
It’s worth noting that the pairing with Carter in the backcourt was the least effective of all Beaubois’ highest-usage lineups.
Beaubois’ pick-and-roll game also showed signs of life that season, as he posted 0.84 PPP as the ball-handler in the two-man game – a mark good enough to crack the top 50 in the NBA. Perhaps even more impressive: Beaubois also cracked the top 20 in PPP (0.94; 18th) out of isolation situations, as his freewheeling style began to pay select dividends. That said, Beaubois’ move toward more ball-handling didn’t come without tradeoffs. In logging 44% of the team’s minutes at point guard in 2011-12, Beaubois’ assist to turnover ratio jumped from 1.36 (1.37 as a rookie) to 2.17, per Hoopdata.

Plus, as Beaubois’ role changed, his spot-up abilities seemed to waver; after proving effective in prior seasons in working off the ball, Beaubois’ spot-up tries last year pulled just 0.88 PPP. Still, flashes of Roddy B, the shooting guard, appeared from time to time. He thrived in hand-off situations (1.26, 4th in the NBA) and while he didn’t get enough opportunities to qualify for a ranking per Synergy, he did put up a stellar 1.44 PPP off of cuts.

This year, Beaubois hasn’t had a player like Terry to play off, and has been toggled in alongside Dominique Jones, Dahntay Jones, O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter. Of, these players, only Dominique Jones is considered a point guard, though he’s also a convert to the position and very much a work in progress. As such, Beaubois has seen 14% of the Mavs’ minutes at PG this year and 4% of the minutes at SG, but has realistically spent the majority of his time as the offensive initiator. As a result, his assist to turnover ratio is at an all-time high of 2.52, his scoring numbers are way down, and according to Hoopdata, Beaubois is only attempting 0.9 shots at the rim. He’s not getting the same type of looks on spot up attempts as in the past and is completely sporadic with his mid-range jumper, as shown here:

There are some technical concerns in play here, as Beaubois’ shooting form varies from time to time, as an previously reliable shooter has developed a bit of a hitch in his shot. Yet more generally, Beaubois struggles with his shooting largely because he doesn’t actually square up to the basket. This isn’t to say that Beaubois is incapable of making more spontaneous shots, as converting buckets while contorting his body at full-speed was a notable part of his game from early on. But for a player who has inconsistent playing time and is likely suffering from waning confidence, these shots aren’t the looks that are likely to get him going.

Beaubois has attempted to carry the burden of team facilitator, when he thrives best while playing off of one. That’s just the reality of his game at this point, and though Beaubois is no longer seen as a building block for the franchise, the talent is still there. However, with the current structure of the team, optimizing Beaubois’ skills just hasn’t been consistently feasible this season.

  • Sam

    I think you have to wonder how much injuries affected Roddy. He didn’t get a real offseason coming out of his rookie year because of his injury trying to play for France, then the next season his play time was sporadic and the lockout prevented him from getting any work in with the Mavs coaching staff and he’s spent time this past offseason and this year hurt as well. Roddy has always been a guy with a lot of raw, undisciplined talent. I feel like if he might’ve gotten a few of those offseasons things like the hitch in his shot might not be there. I always feel like Roddy isn’t a particularly mentally tough guy and the injuries have really affected his confidence. I always hate his body language on the court if he misses a shot or makes a mistake.

  • Matt Hulme

    Good analysis, but I wish it concluded with more foresight into Beaubois’ future. Personally, since the end of his second season, I’ve thought Roddy to be a poor fit here in the Mavs’ system, and often wonder how different his (still young) career would be today if he were in another system.

    A great, raw, underdeveloped talent, Beaubois could never be given the time or coaching necessary to develop those skills, and while I think Carlisle is a great all-around coach (especially in motivation, defensive strategies, and situational and in-game roster management), I don’t feel like talent development has ever been Rick’s strong suit as you would with, say, Greg Popovich or George Karl, and I would be curious to see what, if anything, Beaubois could do on another team.

    …. It’s just too bad he hasn’t worked out here. So much talent.