Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is OJ Mayo Blossoming Into A Star?

The NBA season is almost a quarter of the way over, which means a decent amount of sample size can be looked at and examined. While most of the NBA and its top players are going about their business as usual, one of the biggest surprises this season has been the play of OJ Mayo.

For the first few seasons of his career, Mayo showed signs of star power for the Memphis Grizzlies. He received a lot of attention growing up for his talent, but many felt he was still not fully reaching his potential since entering the NBA.

The Grizzlies, with a solid nucleus and Tony Allen controlling the 2-spot, decided not to keep Mayo this past offseason. That allowed the Dallas Mavericks to snatch him up for a relatively cheap two year, $8.2 million deal.

With Dirk Nowitzki nursing an injury, Dallas needed someone to score in order to stay competitive. Mayo has done just that, averaging over 20 points per game, as well as 4 rebounds and 3.5 assists. All those numbers are career highs for Mayo, bringing him to the attention of many fantasy basketball players, and he’s doing this all while shooting at a much better percentage from the field and the line (.487 FG%, .530 3P%, .841 FT%).

Many have not bought in just yet, and there is reason for concern. For starters, the lack of Nowitzki on the floor means he needs to take more shots. Theoretically though, when Dirk returns to the lineup, Mayo should get more open looks now that defenses can’t focus on him.

Another cause for concern is simply his insane three-point percentage. At 53% on the season, shooting 5.5 threes a game, it just seems completely unsustainable. His last two seasons in Memphis, he shot only 36% from three-point land. If the shots stop falling, does he go back to the same old good, not great, OJ Mayo?

The 25-year old is taking advantage of the change in scenery so far this season. He’s a big reason why the Mavericks are still competitive without their leader playing a single minute so far this season. If he can continue to play at his current rate when Nowitzki comes back, they could form a pretty dangerous duo in the Western Conference.
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