The Freedom Point Guard

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 25, 2009 under Commentary, Roster Moves | 9 Comments to Read

Rodrigue Beaubois is difficult to peg, because not many here in the U.S. have ever seen him play.  He didn’t have the benefit of the NCAA tourney to showcase his abilities, nor the exposure of a big college program to get his name out.

While that makes Beaubois awfully hard to peg in terms of his production in year one, it also may be what allows the Mavs to grab “their guy” at the tail end of the first round.

According to Rick Carlisle, the Mavs had their eyes on Beaubois all along.  Despite the relative upheaval at the top of the draft, the Mavs’ draft strategy held true, leaving the player they wanted exactly where they thought he’d be.  Beaubois gives the Mavs a legitimate long-term option at point guard, though he certainly has a long way to go before he’s ready to fill Jason Kidd’s considerable shoes.

Carlisle also noted that contrary to reports indicating otherwise, Beaubois WILL be in Dallas next year.  The only place that Rodrigue may find himself stashed would be in the D-League.  He’ll make his Maverick debut for this year’s summer team, where we’ll get a quick barometer of Beaubois against the most inexperienced, unrefined, and defensively raw talent the league has to offer.  Still, that’s more game tape than we have until this point.  Finding actual film of Beaubois requires a journey to the ends of the earth, a keen eye for spotting DVDs in the nest of a pterodactyl, and an unreasonable amount of traveler’s savvy.  Trust me, it’s quite the quest.

Based on the information we do have on Beaubois, he seems like an intriguing pick.  His reputation is based on his speed and ability to play man defense, which is precisely what the Mavs should be targeting in their point guards going forward.  Tim Varner of 48 Minutes of Hell noted Beaubois’ passion for D after meeting him at the combine:

Rodrigue Beaubois didn’t say anything striking, but his enthusiasm about playing defense was notable. “When I was younger I didn’t really think about defense. Now it feels so good to stop the other player. I enjoy it.” Now read his words again, but imagine a big smile and an exceedingly cheerful tone.

On top of putting extra emphasis on the better half of the basketball court, Beaubois also had some of the best measurables in the draft:

  • 39” vertical (second in the draft to only Jonny Flynn)
  • 6’9.75” wingspan, which beats out the 6’9” Omri Casspi, the 6’6” Terrence Williams, and the 6’7” Chase Budinger.
  • He bested Flynn, Tyreke Evans, Jeff Teague, and Jrue Holiday in the measured sprints.
  • Beaubois ranked 3rd on the combine’s agility test, just hairs behind Darren Collison and Jack McClinton.

Obviously, the physical tools are there for Beaubois to not only be a phenomenal defender at the point, but also a killer penetrator.  His playmaking skills are rumored to be a little lacking in comparison to his draftmates, but Rodrigue won’t be expected to manage too much of the offense for some time.

Ay, there’s the rub.  It’s hard enough to find a capable player in this draft, much less one that fulfills the Maverick want of instant contribution.  Courtney Lee has become the stuff of legend, a late first rounder capable of becoming something of a defensive stopper in half-a-season flat.  That’s what the Mavs need given their core as currently constructed, and there were certainly better avenues to meet that need than Rodrigue Beaubois.

I love the pick of Beaubois in terms of the team’s future, but Carlisle himself was reluctant to say that Rodrigue had the look of a rotation player next season.

But do you know what he’s not?  B.J. Mullens.  Beaubois has a bright future in the NBA, which is frankly more than I can say for Mr. Mullens.  It might be easier to evaluate the pick of Beaubois with a bit of distance from the draft, because frankly, I’m just glad he’s not an awkward, gangly center.  Did the Mavs achieve what should have been their primary objective in this draft?  No, they did not; Wayne Ellington, Marcus Thornton, Sam Young, and DeJuan Blair are all capable of making an immediate contribution to a team.  Not necessarily as a starter or even a sixth man, but certainly in the rotation.

It’s not quite the reinforcements that MFFLs had in mind, but I’ll take a point guard prospect with some raw tools and upside over no hope at all.  One of the reasons why the Mavs’ outlook is a bit dim is because of the lack of a great hope.  Even the younger players on the team have relatively low ceilings, or serious flaws that may prevent them from becoming long-term starters.  Beaubois won’t be parachuting in from the sky, ammo slung over his shoulder, dual machine guns in hand and a cigar hanging from his lips.  There is a bit of hope for the future of the point guard position, which is something we couldn’t say on Wednesday.

Count to Three and Take Deep Breaths

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under News, Roster Moves | 10 Comments to Read

Just minutes after giving Maverick nation a collective heart attack, Ric Bucher comes through in the clutch to announce the the Mavs and Thunder swapped the 24th and 25th picks, leaving the Mavs with foreign point guard prospect Rodrigue Beaubois.  Much, MUCH, better than B.J. Mullens.

Faith restored, but I’ll never forgive Donnie for my near-fatal encounter with shock.

EDIT: It was just announced that the Mavs have also acquired a future second rounder in the deal.  Whoo!

With the 24th Pick in the 2009 NBA Draft…

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under News, Roster Moves | 2 Comments to Read

Donnie Nelson just did the unthinkable.  With quite a few intriguing prospects still on the draft board (including the revered DeJuan Blair from Pittsburgh, among others), he elected to select B.J. Mullens — THE B.J. Mullens from Ohio State University.

I’m glad I’m here at the AAC for the press conference post-draft, because Nelson’s got some ‘splaining to do.

Epic Network-Wide Draft Live Blog

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under xOther | Comments are off for this article

NBA heads from all over the TrueHoop Network will be rocking a draft live blog ALL NIGHT LONG.  Well, from 4 PM CST until when everyone’s energy flames out in the middle of the second round.  If for some reason the chat box does not appear in this post, check out Hardwood Paroxysm or any other blog on the network.  It’s a family, people.

<a href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&#038;task=viewaltcast&#038;altcast_code=c107dde33d” mce_href=”http://www.coveritlive.com/mobile.php?option=com_mobile&amp;task=viewaltcast&amp;altcast_code=c107dde33d” >TrueHoop Network NBA Draft Liveblog-O-Rama-Rama</a>

Cram Session

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Just in case you wanted to do a quick survey of some of the prospects that may end up as Mavericks, here’s the full inventory of draft previews I’ve done in the last few weeks:

First Rounders:
Terrence Williams
Ty Lawson
Eric Maynor
Austin Daye
Jeff Teague
Patty Mills
Darren Collison
Marcus Thornton

Second Rounders/Undrafted Free Agents:
Curtis Jerrells
Bamba Fall
Chinemelu Elonu
Jeremy Pargo
Kevin Rogers

Other notable draft posts:
Why trading the 22nd pick hurts (“Waiting for Terrence“)
The Mavs swapped the 22nd pick in the draft for the 24th and the 56th (“There’s No News Like Draft News“)
Terrence Williams speaks (“Sugar Plum Dreams“)
Possible targets for moving up in the draft (“When Taking a Shot in the Dark, Aim Up“)
Combine interviews (“Saying All the Right Things, and Seeing Some of the Right Numbers“)
Life in the late first round (“Looking for Love in All the Wrong Draft Ranges“)

Also, remember to stop by for the huge draft liveblog, which will actuallyget kicking at 4 PM CST.  It’s a marathon people, so load up on carbs, bring the gatorade, and remember to stretch.  Godspeed, MFFLs.

They Smell Like the Future: Terrence Williams

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary, Rumors | Read the First Comment

Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images.

Louisville Senior
6′6”, 213 lbs. (Combine measurements)
Almost 22 years old
Shooting guard/small forward/point guard
Projection: Late lottery-late first round

Terrence Williams is the mad note.  I’ve raved and raved about this guy over the last few weeks, or practically ever since his draft stock began to fall.  He’s now, unfortunately, on the up and up, meaning the Mavs likely won’t even sniff him with the 24th pick.

You’ve likely already read many of the reasons why I think Williams should be the guy if he does happen to slip in the draft tonight, but I still have a bag full of superlatives.  Above all else, I think Williams is a supremely valuable player because his ability to impact the game without scoring is just about unparalleled in this draft.  He’s likely to be the best defender at his position, is certainly one of the best ball handlers and distributors at his position, and his rebounding and toughness are top notch.  Terrence Williams is an athlete, and he just so happens to be one that fills a prominent Mavs’ need.

Naturally, he’s not without flaws.  Williams is not a good shooter.  He’s not ideal from that standpoint because he won’t be able to spot-up in the corner or even pull-up in midrange.  His jumpshot is a work in progress, but it’s far from being NBA ready at this point.  To some, that might make him a liability on the floor.  But for a team that has fared well on offense with Antoine Wright and Erick Dampier playing significant minutes, Williams has to be considered a slight offensive upgrade.  Antoine Wright tries, and he tries damn hard every night.  I don’t mean to pick on the guy.  But his mediocre (putting it kindly) shooting stroke and inability to get to the basket consistently makes him a liability on offense.  Williams, on the other hand, is already a better defender than Wright, and supplements those skills with ball-handling and passing on the offensive end.

Terrence Williams is exactly what the Mavs need at this stage in the game: someone who can contribute immediately, and have a clear defensive impact.

Pro-Level Projections:

I’ve asked Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com to use his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Williams.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are based on Williams’ four-year career at Louisville.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

These comparisons make very little sense, given Williams’ position and size.  The closest comparisons turned out to be point guards with good rebounding numbers, which is a bit misleading given that Williams’ will likely play the 2 in the NBA.  Rondo is included for some slight similarities, but ultimately because the pickings were so slim.  This guy is a unique player.

We Like to Rock the Party

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Are you tired of watching the draft alone, in darkness, feeling hopeless and lonely?  Are you tired of venting to your significant other, pet, or Fathead?

Then share your ranting, snarking, and exasperated sighs on the TrueHoop Network collective’s massive joint live chat tonight.

I, myself, will be at the AAC Draft party, either finding a way to contribute via laptop or Twitter.  So stop by here, Hardwood Paroxysm, or just about any other blog in the TrueHoop Network at 4 PM CST to chat the day away.

They Smell Like the Future: Ty Lawson

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Read the First Comment

Photo by John Biever/SI.

UNC Junior
6′0”, 197 lbs. (Combine measurements)
21 years old
Point guard
Projection: Mid-late 1st round

It’s tough to pick apart Ty Lawson’s game.  Most of the counter arguments to claims of Lawson’s success to come in the NBA are largely circumstantial.  He’s a small point guard, but Chris Paul has shown that height doesn’t have to stand in the way of talent.  He did play for a fast-paced offense at UNC, but he’s hardly unique in that respect, and the pace doesn’t make the game tape any less impressive.  Ty Lawson will be a player, that much is certain to me.  Determining his true ceiling may be the more difficult part.

On one hand, you could see Lawson capping out relatively early.  His quickness is a huge advantage, but one that will be partially mitigated by quicker NBA defenders.  The 6’0” measurement, while hardly the stroke of death, poises him for an uphill battle on the defensive end.  There’s room for his shooting to improve, but by how much?  There’s room for growth as a playmaker, but will he embrace it?

I’m situated firmly in the other camp.  I think Lawson will be a great starter in the NBA, and though he may never snatch the highest accolades the league has to offer, he’s going to make some team very, very happy.

Lawson is a true point guard, albeit one who isn’t afraid to score.  One of the few things I consistently rag on Jason Kidd for is not necessarily his inability to score, but his lack of inclination.  He’ll get right to the rim for an open layup, and at the last second kick the ball to the corner for an Antoine Wright three.  It’s as if the part of his brain telling him to score has been poked and prodded with a javelin.  Lawson can’t match Kidd’s height, defense, or incredible courtvision, but he does combine some elements of Kidd’s skill set with a more natural ability and willingness to score.  Lawson is a better shooter coming out of college than Kidd was until the last few seasons.  He’s probably a better finisher around the basket than Kidd is now.  The Mavs don’t desperately need Lawson’s scoring ability, but they need a point guard prospect who can take care of all kinds of business.  Sometimes that will entail setting up his teammates, sometimes it will require taking it to the rack, and almost all the time he’ll have to dig in on the defensive end.

As far as “floor generals” go, it’s hard to do worse than Lawson.  He’s won on college basketball’s biggest stage as the snake head of one of the nation’s highest profile programs.  He’s got a very complete set of skills, and enough quickness to make you do a double-take.  Lawson isn’t the best point guard in the draft, but he doesn’t have to be.  He just has to be the right prospect at the right time for the Mavs, which is a distinct possibility if he falls to 24.

Pro-Level Projections:

I’ve asked Jon Nichols of Basketball-Statistics.com to use his Box Score Prediction System (BSPS) to project career numbers for Lawson.  The values given are career averages per 36 minutes, considering that per minute statistics at least partially eliminate variables such as abnormal playing time, lack of opportunity, etc.  The projections are based on Lawson’s three-year career at UNC.  For comparison’s sake, I’ve dug up some other players who have averaged similar numbers over their careers (click here for an enlarged chart):

(Note: the years indicated in the chart refer to the last year of the season played.  For examples, the 2004-2005 season will be marked 05.)

These are fantastic projections for Lawson.  With Ty’s improved shooting stroke, I can’t help but shake the feeling that he could pan out as a Jameer Nelson-type player.  All three of these comparisons have the makings of solid pros, which is exactly what can be expected from Lawson.  All three are also undersized even by point guard standards, and yet have little trouble turning heads with their talent and production.

Waiting for Terrence

Posted by Rob Mahoney on under Commentary | Be the First to Comment

I’ve made it perfectly clear that I believe Terrence Williams to be an ideal fit for the Mavs.  He’s a hellish defender, an excellent rebounder for his position, and a crutch for our point guard of the future.  I think he would easily be Antoine Wright and more.

Unfortunately, the Mavs aren’t Williams’ other suitor.  Terrence seems to have a guarantee, and based on the mutual interest from both parties, it’s a fair bet that said guarantee is coming from the New Jersey Nets with the 11th pick.  If not there, then perhaps with the Charlotte Bobcats at 12.  Williams seems to have climbed from within the Mavs’ range to clear out of sight, leaving us with little hope of seeing him in Maverick blue.

That said, there’s no harm in waiting.  There is some harm, however, in dealing down two spots in the draft with a team earmarking similar needs.

In college, Williams was a small forward.  He’s capable of playing that position in the NBA, even if he doesn’ t quite have the height to match the towers of that position.  And if he does, for one reason or another, slip ‘n slide all the way to the 22 spot in the draft, could you really see Portland passing up Williams in favor of Omri Casspi?  Casspi is 6’9”, but many of his strengths are things that Williams can easily replicate (strengths lists courtesy of Draft Express):

Essentially, Casspi’s strengths are eclipsed by Williams’.  Terrence also brings the added benefit of relieving ball pressure from Brandon Roy, and playing a point forward role with the second unit.  For a team that features Jerryd Bayless and Steve Blake as point guards, that’s actually a pretty decent alternative.

I’m not sure how high (or low) the Blazers are on Williams, but I do know this: if they’re on the clock with both still on the board, is it even possible that Portland passes up the superior, more versatile talent?

There’s No News Like Draft News

Posted by Rob Mahoney on June 24, 2009 under News | 3 Comments to Read

The Mavs have agreed to a deal in principle with the Portland Trailblazers, trading the 22nd pick in the draft for the 24th pick, the 56th pick, and a 2010 second rounder.

Chad Ford seems to believe that the Blazers have their sights set on Omri Casspi.  The Israeli wing may have caught the eye of the Sacramento Kings, who currently hold the 23rd pick.

Credit to the Mavs; this counts as activity.  If Casspi is indeed the guy for either Sacramento or Portland, then this deal isn’t likely to affect the Mavs’ options.  Casspi hasn’t been linked to the Mavs aside from a few rumors early in the process, mostly because he plays the same position as Josh Howard.  The Mavs are likely drafting for some combination of need and best talent available, and Casspi’s stock drops a bit with the Mavs because of that SF label.  He’s still a fairly intriguing prospect in my eyes, but this trade (if Ford’s buzz is indeed correct) seems to indicate otherwise.

So the gameplan going into the draft tomorrow is more or less the same: find a valuable starter, preferably one who can provide depth in the frontcourt, blossom into a starting shooting guard, or give a glimmer of hope at the point.  The trade does, however, allow the Mavs to take a shot at a second rounder.  There are some intriguing names that may fall to the second round (Nick Calathes, Patty Mills, Marcus Thornton, Wayne Ellington, Dionte Christmas), meaning the Mavs may have milked some real value out of their pick.