O.J. Mayo Is Earning Redemption with the Dallas Mavericks

Tom HorowitzContributor IIINovember 22, 2012

DALLAS, TX - NOVEMBER 12:  O.J. Mayo #32 of the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on November 12, 2012 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

"I love O.J. Mayo."

This sounds like something a happy-go-lucky fellow like Jim Carrey might say in one of your favorite comedy flicks.

In actuality, it was Carrey's grumpy look-a-like Rick Carlisle talking recently to NBA TV.

The Mavs' hard-edged coach has a soft spot for Mayo because he wanted to play for him so badly in Dallas.

Mayo was a child prodigy who never fulfilled his basketball potential. Chauncey Billups was in the same boat before Carlisle developed him into an NBA star in Detroit

This past offseason, Billups advised a hungry Mayo to go round-out his game for Carlisle's Mavericks.

Mayo had become an unrestricted free agent because Memphis had reduced his role over four seasons, relegating him to sixth-man duty for the past two years.

After the Grizzlies didn't sign him to a qualifying offer sheet, Mayo inked a one-year, $4 million dollar deal with the Mavs this summer (Mayo has a player option for $4.5 million in 2013-14, or he can opt out.) 

Dallas was stinging after failing to sign Deron Williams, but Mayo has more than eased the pain thus far.

As a Maverick, Mayo has been scorching hot from the three-point line. He became the first player in NBA history to hit 30 treys in the first eight games of a season while shooting 60 percent from beyond the arc.

After three more trifectas in a 114-111 win against the Knicks Wednesday, Mayo easily leads the NBA with 42 made three-point shots.  His 56.8 percent shooting from distance ranks second in the Association this season (Matt Bonner's 64.3 percent qualifies despite making only nine three-point shots.)

Mayo's 27 points Wednesday raised his scoring average to 22.2 ppg, ranking seventh in the NBA.  In his last two seasons in Memphis, Mayo averaged only 11.9 ppg over 137 games.

O.J. has kept the Mavs afloat without the injured Dirk Nowitzki, but Coach Carlisle uses some "tough love" on Mayo when called for. 

Recently, Carlisle featured a slew of Mayo's defensive blunders in a Mavericks film session.

Mayo didn't pout. He responded with a strong defensive effort against Golden State Monday, especially in the third quarter. Mayo carried that momentum into his offensive attack, scoring 18-of-his-27 points in the fourth quarter and overtime. 

With a wide array of fantastic drives, O.J. tallied the Mavs' final 11 points, but Dallas lost 105-101.

Mayo's offensive arsenal will be fully utilized when Dirk returns from knee surgery next month. The Mavs envision O.J. as the next Jason "The Jet" Terry. 

That means a plethora of pick-and-rolls for two dynamic scorers who already share mutual respect.

In fact, Nowitzki was on Mayo's radar when O.J. was starting for his high school varsity team as a seventh grader. 

"Seeing Dirk when he first came into the league, seeing how hard he worked to become one of the best power forwards to ever play this game, to becoming an NBA champion and now playing alongside him.  I'm still in awe,"  Mayo told NBA TV in a friendly exchange of quotes.

Dirk fed the ball right back to the 25-year-old, if only metaphorically for now.

"In July, O.J was in the gym shooting everyday, sometimes twice a day; he's almost a gym rat like I was at his age."