Was O.J. Mayo the Best Value Signing of the 2012 NBA Offseason?
I would say not. O.J. Mayo has been an over-heralded addition to nearly every team since high school, probably due to his high school prowess. This high school prowess started before high school, actually. Seventh-grade Mayo made national headlines when he averaged 23.1 points per game at the varsity level.
His early success whet the public's appetite for his eventual stardom. Though Mayo stirred some controversy with a brash, final act in high school, it made him seem all the more alluring as a future pro.
At USC, he posted first-year numbers that were just good enough to perhaps validate that early promise. Though he shot only 44 percent, it could be dismissed as just one freshman season that belied the solid body of stardom evidence that had come before it. Mayo was drafted third in 2008 and was later traded for fifth pick Kevin Love. Considering that Love, Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, Danilo Gallinari, Roy Hibbert and Serge Ibaka were available, third may have been a bit high for Mayo.
We can't really blame Mayo for this. Players have different learning curves. For every Hakeem Olajuwon—who came to hoops late after an adolescence spent playing soccer—there is an O.J. Mayo. Early greatness did not presage latter greatness, but it did speak to future basketball competence. Mayo became a well-compensated professional basketball player, and for that he should be quite proud.
But should Mavericks fans be dancing in the streets because they got Mayo? Of course not, the 24-year-old guard has never had an above-average PER year in four NBA seasons. Though billed as a defensive stopper, Mayo is too small to have much of an impact on that end. At less than 6'4" in socks, with a (relatively) 6'6" wingspan, Mayo is forever fighting a battle against larger 2-guards such as Paul George.
Though advertised as a shooter, Mayo is merely adequate in that respect. He shoots a slightly above-average three-point mark at .364 and misses his fair share of shots within the arc (20.5 percent from 10-15 feet last year).
To put it bluntly, I'm not sure what O.J. Mayo gives the Dallas Mavericks despite being a non-horrible player. They needed some bodies at the 2-guard position, so mission accomplished there. But I'm not sure that this is any coup at two years, $8 million.
That's roughly the same amount that the Golden State Warriors paid Brandon Rush, and Rush happens to be bigger, better defensively and a better three-point shooter. While there is certainly a dearth of 2-guards in the modern NBA, Mayo seems an inessential addition for most teams.
However, the Mavericks may have signed Mayo to be a stop-gap point guard. The Mavericks lost Jose Juan Barea and Jason Kidd to free agency over the last two seasons, and the team needs someone to bring the ball up for Dirk Nowitzki. In this way, Mayo is more an admission of how much Dallas needed Deron Williams than a signing to be proud of.
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