Why Minnesota Timberwolves Should Sign O.J. Mayo in Free Agency
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The Minnesota Timberwolves need a shooting guard, specifically a shooting guard who can...well...shoot.
Last year the Wolves were dead last in three-point shooting percentage. Part of this was because Brandon Roy couldn’t complete his comeback, part of this is because Chase Budinger got injured early on and most of it was because they really did not have a true 2-guard.
As a result, things got jammed up down low for Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love (when he was playing), and Ricky Rubio did not have anyone to dish it to along the perimeter.
Love and Budinger can both hit the three, and Derrick Williams may develop an outside shot, but having a player who can hit from the outside is imperative for Minnesota if they want to be a playoff team next year.
Let’s start by why not. I wrote a while back that I wanted the Wolves to pursue J.J. Redick.
I still want them to.
Redick is a better defensive player. Like Mayo, he can shoot the ball well from outside, but he has the added element of strong fundamental defense. This is something Mayo needs to work on.
One of the criticisms leveled at Mayo during his four years in Memphis was that he did not evolve as a player.
He came into the league with plenty of athleticism and a decent outside shot. The problem is that his three-point shooting, along with his free-throw shooting, did not improve, and he was still a bit of a liability on defense—he was a bit too short to defend shooting guards and too slow to cover point guards.
Mayo took a step forward with the Dallas Mavericks, however, shooting 40.7 percent from three and 82.0 percent from the charity stripe. Still, he is far from the defensive player Redick is.
His upside, however, is formidable: At just 25, he is still incredibly athletic, and he will get plenty of playing time in Minneapolis. He fits a need, and the Wolves would like to keep together a young core of players committed to playing in one place and reversing the team's trend of missing the playoffs.
Mayo’s shooting ability is what makes him attractive to the Wolves. His age and athleticism is what gives him an edge over Redick.
Why the T-Wolves?
The second part of this is the possibility that Mayo might want to come back to the team that drafted him No. 3 overall in 2008 (before trading him to Memphis on draft day).
A culture of winning is not a sell here, but the prospect of winning is.
This is arguably a complete team with Mayo on it. There are two franchise players—Rubio at the point and Love at the 4—a budding star in Williams at small forward and an anchor at center if they re-sign Pekovic.
If they re-sign Budinger, they have a sixth man off the bench who can shoot and get to the rim. Alexey Shved could become a viable backup point guard. Dante Cunningham provides energy off the bench and J.J. Barea or Luke Ridnour will bring veteran experience. The missing piece, of course, is a shooting guard.
Hint: It’s Mayo.
Rick Adelman is an experienced and respected head coach, and the Target Center will fill up once the team starts winning. That means that there is a perfect recipe for success if this team has Mayo.
I believe free agents want two things: to be wanted and to be on a winning team. Mayo will have both in Minneapolis.
Mayo has room to grow in Minnesota.
The shooting guard position is a big need, so he will get plenty of playing time, and he has an experienced coach in Adelman who will make sure he progresses as a player.
He has a team around him that is ready to contend should it land a quality shooting guard. By adding Mayo, the team will be getting younger, and with Kirilenko choosing not to pick up his $10 million player option, the Wolves have money to spend and should use a chunk of it to woo Mayo.
He may be Minnesota’s missing piece.
Tom Schreier covers Minnesota sports for Bleacher Report and is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports.
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