Shooting for the Stars

Posted by Bryan Gutierrez on May 7, 2013 under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

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The position evaluation continues. We will be looking at each position on the floor and determine where things went wrong and what needs to change or areas of need from each position. Again, names will be named soon.

The point guard position has been covered, and it is now time to evaluate the shooting guard position. With Jason Terry departing in free agency during the offseason, a scoring punch was a major necessity. Waiting things out ultimately worked in the favor of the Mavs as they were able to sign O.J. Mayo at a reasonable price.

While the position can be a dime a dozen spot, the Mavs have had quite the challenge of being able to have a capable and consistent person man the position. Like Darren Collison, Mayo provided a major source of optimism going into the season. A guard in his mid-20s coming into town with still untapped potential would make anyone excited.

Summing it up:

Also like Collison, Mayo showed flashes of greatness over the course of the season. He had four games with 30-plus points and 22 games with 20-plus points. He showed his extended range by having four games with six-plus three-point field goals made. Mayo led Dallas in scoring 25 times during the season. What might be surprising is that he led the team in assists 25 times.

Everyone will remember the shootout with James Harden in December. Mayo poured in a career-high-tying 40 points to go along with a team-high eight rebounds, three assists and two steals in 42 minutes in Dallas’ 116-109 win at Houston on Dec. 8. Mayo scored 16 points in the first quarter and also had 16 in the fourth, including 12 of Dallas’ final 14 points of the game (10 in the last 3 minutes). He went 6-of-9 from the floor in the fourth, including 2-of-2 from deep.

Mayo outdueled Houston’s James Harden, who finished with a team-high 39 points on the night. He outscored Harden 16-3 in the fourth quarter. Only one other Mavericks starting guard in the past 18 seasons had scored 40-plus points in a game: Michael Finley dropped 42 at Detroit on Nov. 27, 2002.

That was the highest of the high for Mayo. The last two or three months of the season saw Mayo hit the wall. Emotionally, mentally and physically, Mayo just ran out of steam. He scored 7.0 fewer points and his shooting percentage dropped 4.6 percent after the All-Star break. Coming into the season, Mayo’s career high for turnovers in a game was seven. He had six games during the year where he committed at least six turnovers. He had eight turnovers against the New York Knicks on Nov. 9. Mayo had a career high nine turnovers in the double-overtime game against the Boston Celtics on Dec. 12. He was only one of seven other players who had nine turnovers in a game (K. Bryant, J. Harden, N. Batum, D. Jordan, J. Noah and R. Rondo).

What do they need?

They need someone who can be consistent. For the year, Mayo was either scorching hot or ice cold. Mayo shot 49.6 percent from the field, 52.2 percent from 3-point range and scored 17.1 points in wins. Mayo shot 40.2 percent from the field, 28.1 percent from 3-range and scored 13.5 points in losses.

It depends on what happens at the point guard position, but the shooting guard will likely need to be an aggressive force of sorts on the offensive end of the floor. Mayo certainly lost his aggression during the final stretch of the season. In a little known fact, Mayo went the final 21 games of the season without attempting more than two free throws in a game. The game against the Detroit Pistons on Mar. 8 was the last game of the year where he had more than two attempts (he had four). That is a terrible number, having your starting shooting guard go 21 games without having more than two free throw attempts in a game.

Like the point guard position, basketball IQ will be a priority at the shooting guard position. Confidence will also be a necessity. It’s hard to argue that Mayo didn’t go through a crisis of confidence as the season wore on. There were highs and lows for Mayo and they wore him down as the season ended. He didn’t look like a beaten man, but he certainly appeared like one who was ready for things to come to an end.

Even with the position being a dime a dozen spot, this summer’s free agent market for shooting guards is relatively thin. There are specialists out there but depending on what happens with the point guard position – which is a higher priority – a specialist might be what the doctor orders.

Bryan Gutierrez writes about sportsmen. He also attended Ball So Hard University, studying ideologies of Clark Kent. You can follow him on Twitter @BallinWithBryan.