Roddy B: Hope, Faith, & 'Heightened Activity'

In a fan's mind, the separation may become difficult to distinguish, but there remains a difference between ‘faith' and ‘hope.' Seeming to stride with one foot planted on either side of that line is Rodrigue Beaubois, who the Mavs say may be one week away from ‘heightened activity' – leaving us to deal for now with heightened or lowered faith and hope.

"He's progressing, for sure," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said on Monday. "The hope is when we get back from the trip that he'll be in a position maybe to get into some heightened activity. We'll have to see what's what when we get to that point."

Ah, hope.
There is actually some positive news here. Beaubois has missed all season with a fractured foot. He's usually traveled with the team even while injured. So staying home for an intensified rehab in order to be ready for when the Mavs return home for a Feb. 7 meeting with the lowly Cavs …

Hope.

The Dallas Mavericks have been careful in beginning to lay the groundwork for tempered expectations, but those following the Mavs find their minds eager to wander the images of Roddy B scoring 40 against the Golden State Warriors or giving Dallas a chance in Game 6 of their series against the Spurs last season, when he almost single-handedly erased a large deficit with 16 points in only 20 minutes of action. Too often, the temptation is to turn hope into fact, and fact into blind faith.

The Mavs are aware that Roddy B is a second-year player with immense talent, just as they are aware of the burden tethered to vast potential. Placing the moniker of "savior" upon a player with only 700 minutes played in the NBA (the equivalent of just under 15 complete games, or around 28 percent of the minutes a player would total were they to average 30 minutes for an entire 82 contest season), yet to return from an injury that has kept him from more than half of the regular season and all training camp activities, is a recipe for failure.

A "savior" cannot be granted the leeway to adjust and grow into a role with anything less than immediacy. Devoting to an unquestioned faith that Roddy B can do exactly that is unfair to both fans and the player and creates a standard of expectation that forgoes the blessing of patience, thus widening the definition of failure.

That's not to say there isn't reason to harbor excitement for his return, which draws nearer by the day, only that denying him the time and space to blossom could provide a disservice to the hopeful outcome. And, there's that word: "hope."

What Roddy B does represent, and does carry, is a justified hope.

Potential may be a curse at times, as it describes one seen as housing the ability to excel, but lacking the history of having done so. But, for the 700 minutes we did see Beaubois, there were more than a handful of glimpses promising the attainability of success. The hope is that those brief glimpses may be expanded without a suffering of results.

Should that occur, it obviously carries an inherent influence on the team. If he can somehow fulfill the hopes placed in him, how could the Mavericks not be much-improved?

Dallas doesn't need Roddy B to carry the team, or to act as its "savior," only to earn a solid place in the rotation and bring the tools he displayed over his brief time last season with some level of consistency.

Beyond his own inexperience, the weight of heightened expectations, and the disadvantage of being five months removed from full-fledged professional basketball (his injury was originally reported Aug. 6 by the French newspaper L'Equipe), other obstacles could stand between Roddy and those hopes.

There's the established guard rotation of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, DeShawn Stevenson and JJ Barea, as well as two new faces being worked into fluency at small forward with Sasha Pavlovic and Peja Stojakovic. Roddy B will need to regain his conditioning, and find his place within a roster still learning its pieces, and this doesn't take into account the likelihood of further change should a trade be looming in the not-too-distant future.

Then, there's the notoriously (among Mavs fans) lack of tolerance for mistakes from Carlisle combined with the zone often deployed by the Dallas defense. The zone, which Carlisle has begun to turn to with less consistency, can both hide individual weaknesses and highlight cracks in chemistry.

Injuries destroyed the cohesion of a thriving team, plucking Dirk Nowitzki, Caron Butler and Tyson Chandler from the lineup at different and/or overlapping times. They also focused a light on the need for trust between teammates within a defense dependant on communication and familiarity.

Unlike Ian Mahinmi or Dominique Jones, other young players slow to consistently crack Carlisle's rotation, Roddy B will have the advantage of a previous season on the court and an additional half-season of classroom time. But, studying is not playing, and Roddy B has not played in a live game for five months. If the lingering battle being fought by Dirk Nowitzki to recapture his optimal level of performance after nine games missed is any indication, the re-assimilation of Roddy B may not be as quick as most would desire.

So he will stay home, as will Peja Stojakovic. Carlisle says Stojakovic's knee (which limited his play in Toronto before his Dallas acquisition this month) is "going through training camp right now. That's the way we're looking at it. We could throw him into the games, but, again, in our estimation it wouldn't be the right move for him or for us. … Right now, we just feel this is the right thing."

Caution. Faith. Hope. … Oh and luck.

With luck, if Dallas has adhered to as much caution as they appear to have with Roddy B (not to mention with Peja), there will be little relevance in the comparison to Dirk's injury, allowing Beaubois to not oppose his own health as he tackles the other hurdles in his path.

Smile

Blind faith may litter the stage of Roddy B's return with speed bumps, just as it destroys the patience of fans, but again, there remains room for optimism. Having the player who averaged the second most points among all rookies per 36 minutes last season, posted a PER of 18.5 while hitting 51.8 percent of his shots from the floor and 40.9 percent of those taken behind the three-point line, back on the court is not a negative.

"When he comes back, it'll be like we just made a big trade,'' as one Mavs player tells us in a whisper.

There is room for that sort of hope. Just recognize the logic as Dallas management and players attempt to publically curb the expectations that may have risen to near mythic proportions. It is possible things immediately click and blind faith will be rewarded. However, it may be wiser to set aside intense faith for instant gratification, in favor of hope.

Hope, Roddy B carries in abundance.

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