NBA Trade Speculation: What Can Memphis Grizzlies Guard OJ Mayo Still Do for You
It was no secret that O.J. Mayo was on the Memphis Grizzlies' trading block leading up to the February 24th deadline. In fact, a deal had been struck between the Grizzlies and the Indiana Pacers to move Mayo for Josh McRoberts and a 2011 first-round pick. The deal was too late and wasn't executed.
Four months later, is Mayo still available?
Memphis showed their intention to move own with the shooting guard position by drafting Kansas' Xavier Henry with their 12th overall pick. Furthermore, Mayo was delegated to bench duty after head coach Lionel Hollins opted for the defensive-minded guards Sam Young and Tony Allen.
In today's NBA, it wouldn't have surprised me at all to see Mayo start tweeting how unhappy he was. It wouldn't have surprised me if he chose to take a lot of plays off on defense when he did make it on the court. It wouldn't have surprised me if he decided to show up late to early morning shoot-arounds.
It would have surprised me, though, to see him take it all in stride. And that's exactly what he did.
Mayo came up big in times in the playoffs, and I was extremely impressed with his spirit. If the Grizzlies decide to shop him around, I've got four huge reasons why he would do your team good.
2008 NBA Draft
The 2008 NBA Draft was the first draft that I followed closely.
O.J. Mayo was drafted third overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves, and, as is customary with the early draft picks, was immediately interviewed while wearing a brand new Timberwolves hat.
Check out his draft day interview with Stephen A. Smith to get an idea of how composed he was in the spotlight.
Now I know how these guys are coached to answer the questions posed on draft day, but something seemed different about Mayo's. He was sincere and focused on the task at hand.
Even after being traded the very same day to the Memphis Grizzlies, Mayo remained unfazed and answered questions like a true professional.
Reason 1 your team would like to have O.J. Mayo: His incredible composure at such a young age.
Two Great Seasons and One Bad Season
Is too much of a reach to just chalk the 2010-2011 season as a dud for O.J. Mayo? Aren't players allowed one bad season every once in a while?
We too easily forget just how electric Mayo was for the Memphis Grizzlies right out of the gates. He finished second in Rookie of the Year voting to some guy named Derrick Rose.
Yes, just two years ago we uttered those two guys' names in the same sentence.
It's not like he was a slacker his second year in the NBA, either. He lost just one point per game, down to 17.5, mainly due to his drop in free throw percentage, which sank to 81%.
If you actually sink to 81 percent, you're doing fine.
Then, in the past season, he got in the doghouse with the Grizzlies and saw his minutes per game drop from 38 in each of his first two seasons to 26.3 in his third.
Had he received 38 minutes per game, he would've been on pace to score 16.3 points per game, a respectable total.
Reason 2 your team would like to have O.J. Mayo: He's a buy-low candidate after the Memphis Grizzlies decision-makers have overreacted to one bad season.
His Greatly Improved Defensive Ability
As we sit here and bash O.J. Mayo's 2010-2011 season, we are neglecting the other end of the court—the defensive end.
Mayo actually had his best season of his career defensively. Once again, had he gotten the same amount of minutes that he got his first and second season, 38, he would've collected 1.4 steals and 0.6 blocks per game.
Both of those would've been career highs. Even when you use his actual stats—1.0 steals and 0.4 blocks per game—you see that he didn't let the media scrutiny affect his defensive effort.
Mayo also had the best year of his career in the plus/minus statistic. This stat describes the point differential that the team experiences when a particular player is in the game.
Mayo earned a negative plus/minus his first two years, meaning more points were scored on the floor against the Memphis Grizzlies than the Grizzlies scored themselves.
However, he had a plus-136 in 2010-2011, which was good for fourth on the team. Who was in front? The four mainstays in the starting lineup—Mike Conley, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, and Rudy Gay.
Reason 3 your team would like to have O.J. Mayo: He improved tremendously on defense during a highly turbulent year.
Positive Attitude After Failed Trade
I alluded to this earlier, but it bears going into further detail. O.J. Mayo was a model citizen even after owner Michael Heisley tried to get rid of him.
Mayo was bumped from the starting rotation, lost 12 minutes per game from his previous seasons, and was looked over time after time in key situations. He never blinked, at least not in public.
And that's all that matters.
If you have an issue with an organization, it's between you and the organization. Players have started the bad habit of using the media as a communication tool with the guy down the hall, and I for one can't stand it.
Mayo didn't do this. After his January 5th fight with teammate Tony Allen, he reevaluated his position with the team and moved forward.
In the postseason, Mayo was spectacular. He scored 11.3 points per game in only 27.8 minutes on average. His plus/minus was the best on the entire team at plus-37. The next closest was Marc Gasol at plus-29.
Once again, had he been given the same 38 minutes per game he was used to, Mayo would've been second on the team in postseason scoring with 15.4 points and in assists with 3.3 per game.
Reason 4 your team would like to have O.J. Mayo: After a rocky regular season, he stepped up when it counted and had a terrific postseason.
Why Do the Grizzlies Want to Trade This Guy?
I'm a Memphis Grizzlies fan and want to see O.J. Mayo stay.
His career-long composure, defensive prowess, and knack for performing under pressure are important to a young team that looks like it's hear to stay in the Western Conference.
But if for some reason he is moved this off-season, you and your team should be happy to have a player with this character.
Please, just give him his 38 minutes per game!