Since the season is coming to a close and it appears likely that the Detroit Pistons are lottery bound, several Pistons beat writers are speculating on whom the Pistons will target this upcoming offseason.
While Mayo, 25, isn't technically a free agent this offseason, he can opt out of his deal and become a free agent, which most people assume that he will do.
Mayo signed a deal this past offseason with the Mavericks to start at shooting guard and re-establish his value in the NBA after the past two seasons, where he was brought off the bench with the Memphis Grizzlies. If this season so far is any indication, he can consider it a success.
Mayo has started every game for the Mavericks this season and has shown that he is still an efficient player. In 61 games, Mayo is averaging 17.4 points per game in 35.7 minutes per game. He's also enjoying a career high in his shooting percentage, which is .462 from the field and .424 from three-point range. Even more impressive is that he is averaging 4.4 assists per game, which is more than one assist per game better than his career average of 3.0.
Most fans would be thrilled with a durable young shooting guard who has played in 362 out of a possible 373 games in four NBA seasons. But the question remains: Would Mayo be a fit with the Pistons?
Vincent Goodwill of the Detroit News thinks so when he wrote about the Pistons:
One player who will be—or at least should be—on their radar is Mavericks shooting guard O.J. Mayo, who has the option of entering free agency after the season.
Goodwill went on to explain the reasons why he thinks Mayo would be a good fit:
Mayo is sixth-best in terms of scoring via isolation (per synergy sports), an area in which the Pistons are sorely lacking.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said Mayo is handling being blitzed on screen-rolls much better than before, and Mayo would be a great fit on the offensive end with Greg Monroe's diverse game, as he's seventh in the NBA in scoring off cuts — along with being one of the best 3-point shooters the game has to offer (42.4 percent, 120 makes this season).
While Mayo has very good numbers, they don't tell the whole story. He has a 16.0 player efficiency rating (PER) that ranks him 121st in the NBA. That would place him as having the fourth-best PER on the Pistons. But guard Brandon Knight, whom Mayo would be replacing at the 2-guard, has a 13.2 PER.
While Knight is only 21 and was moved to shooting guard after the Jose Calderon trade on Jan. 30, he is settling into his new role at shooting guard after playing at point guard for a season and a half.
Going by PER, Knight has improved from 11.7 in his rookie year to 13.2 this season. Based on this improvement, one can make an argument that he has a higher ceiling than Mayo.
Mayo looks like he would offer an upgrade based on statistics alone, but for the contract he would require, the Pistons need to focus on other players that can be better suited to play with Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
Another concern is that Mayo doesn't get to the free-throw line as often as one would like to see. He has an excellent career free-throw percentage at .819, but he has only averaged 3.2 attempts per 36 minutes in his career. Knight is averaging 3.5 free-throw attempts per 36 minutes this season. To help the Pistons balance out their offense, it should be essential that they acquire a shooting guard or small forward who can penetrate and either get to the line or distribute the ball.
Arguments can be made that a shooting guard who can get into the paint isn't as necessary, due to the presence of Monroe or Drummond already occupying space. But you don't want an offense that is too predictable.
After all the reasons why Mayo may not be a good fit, his age is a factor in that he could still develop his game and alter it to play with the Pistons.
If the Pistons could sign him to a reasonable contract, then maybe they should consider him. However, if he opts out of his deal, he'll want a large contract and the Pistons should look elsewhere for improving their team.
*All statistics are as of March 9
**All statistics are from basketball-reference.com