More Mayo, Please

16 07 2012

And just like that, the Mavs at least have a respectable team that has a shot at making the playoffs for a 13th straight season. Why did any of us second guess this Mavs front office, again?

The Dallas Mavericks and O.J. Mayo have agreed on a two-year deal with the second being a player option, according to sources ESPN Dallas’s Jeff Caplan and Mayo’s Twitter account. He tweeted Monday night, saying, “I will be signing with dallas! #Mavsnation.”

Mayo joins the other four new Mavs as this roster begins to completely transform into a team that being constructed from the ground up (again). All five players that have joined this roster will be directly implemented into Carlisle’s system and receive significant minutes.

The young 24-year-old spent the first four years of his career with the Memphis Grizzlies before they opted not to extend his contract, sending him to free agency.

Unfortunately, he regressed in each successive season while with Memphis. After storming out of the gates his rookie year by averaging 18.5 points and following that up with 17.5 points in his sophomore campaign, he has since then only averaged 11.9 points while every single one of his shooting percentage numbers have decreased. This might have been due to the fact that he become a bench player these latter two years and played around 12 less minutes. Even though he has this glaring problem that you never want to see in a young player, Mayo has always had a soft touch and had a spectacular shooting percentage when he is open. He could very easily grow back into his early form with the right role.

What will be his role with the Mavs? Oh, it’s pretty simply – be the JET.

Since Dallas decided to part ways with the clutch 4th quarter scorer, their long-distance shooting became completely shot with Shawn Marion being their best option from deep. Uh-oh.

Well, with the insertion of the 2008 third overall pick into this squad, they now have the 3-point specialist that every competitive team needs – just look at the Miami Heat’s bench from last season. He might come off the bench to provide a necessary offensive spark when newcomer Dahntay Jones needs a break from playing hard-nosed defense or start (since that’s when he’s played his best) right away in order to fit into this new offensive system led by Collison.

Not only does Mayo come in as Terry’s successor, he also joins as a player the Mavs might actually be interested in long-term. Up to this point, every single signing this summer has been for one year. Clearly, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson are ready to do yet another overhaul next summer for a big-time free agent (I’m getting the gut-feeling it will be James Harden). Mayo can be a part of this plan. He has the age and specific skill set that fits into any system, no matter what pieces move around.

I won’t back down from this – the 2012 offseason should be considered a disappointment for the Mavs. It can’t be forgotten that they failed to sell their franchise to a premier point guard in Deron Williams that would have changed the entire outlook on the organization’s future. They gambled and paid the price.

Yet, things have now gone from dire to acceptable.

With Daren Collison and Mayo replacing Kidd and Terry, youth has been infused to a team that hasn’t had that in what feels like decades. Actual youth from quality players. Furthermore, improved quickness can go right alongside these two players.

With Chris Kaman and Elton Brand replacing Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi, they simply got two better basketball players. The new big men might be older and more injury prone, but they are certainly athletes that can score, rebound, block and pass the ball at a higher level.

So, with almost all of the money and roster spots being used up (they’re not done, yet), where do the Mavericks stand right now? Title contender? No. Playoff contender? Absolutely. That is what needs to be established with this team – the bar has been lowered. It is simply a realistic approach people must take with this team. They have improved interior scoring and offense in general, but lack the necessary pieces to be make an honest-to-goodness push to go all the way. The main piece had to be Deron Williams.

No matter where this team will be predicted to finish up prior to the season starting, which will be difficult to do with the many new, crucial players, this is a (somewhat) compelling time for the Mavericks. Watching how all these new players will fit into an established system that Carlisle can twist and bend to fit his players strengths will simply be fun to watch. Oh yeah – and they will get an entire training camp unlike last season, which will inevitably be very valuable to such a transforming team. (If you noticed, the two team’s in the NBA Finals were the teams that didn’t have to deal with barely any roster changes.) How successful this team can be will rely heavily on how efficiently they can implement their many new pieces during this time.

This team is not better than the 2011 championship squad that put all the right cogs together at just the right time, but it is certainly better than that odd group of basketball players that got embarrassed in the playoffs last season. Will they be closer to the championship team or the swept team? That is something that we can watch unfold as Dallas closes JET’s runway and allow Mayo’s 3-point guns into the American Airlines Center.

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