Where Would The Mavs Be Without O.J. Mayo?
Without Nowitzki, O.J. Mayo has been by far the most steadying influence for this 10-10 Dallas Mavericks squad. We can all probably agree that Dallas' record would be something worse than the .500 it was going into Monday without Mayo's prodigious outside shooting this year, but how bad would it be?
That's an easy call to make from one game, his 40-point outburst in Houston on Saturday. Here, check out the video cut-up:
But this is a quarter-of-the-season phenomenon.
Monday's 119-96 crushing of the Kings (a 17th straight win when Sacto visits Dallas) did not require the usual heavy lifting from OJ, who scored 19 in the blowout which was accomplished even without Shawn Marion, who said out again nursing that groin.
Here's OJ in the Video Visit:
Mayo also commented on DeMarcus Cousins being "immature'' and as having "mental issues.''
"That guy has mental issues," Mayo said. "He's a talented player, but he has the opportunity to be the face of that franchise, but I don't think he wants it. He's immature, man. Big maturity problem."
Why would Mayo say such a thing? Here's why:
So, that's not really O.J. complaining. It's his anatomy.
Anyway, Dallas is now 11-10. Good for them, as the stay-afloat-without-Dirk is unfolding in an acceptable way. Chris "Purple Ankle'' Kaman's 18 points were a big part of it on Monday:
"I don't do a lot of 'exploding,' anyway, says Kaman. Classic.
And one more Video Visit, with Elton Brand:
Now let's examine the climb to .500 and how Mayo carried Dallas there.
With 20 games in the books, Mayo's 20.9 ppg ranked him as the fourth highest-scoring guard among qualified players, behind only Kobe Bryant, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Juice's 48.2-percent field-goal shooting lands him eighth in the NBA among guards and his still-ridiculous shooting from the arc tops the league at 52.3 percent by nearly three percentage points.
But what if he wasn't around? Instead of top-five production at the shooting guard position, what if Dallas was receiving only, say, middle of-the-road scoring?
Among qualified players, median production at the guard position is between 11.5 and 12.2 points per game. How would Dallas have fared if Mayo's production was at this level instead of the All Star-caliber he has been producing?
If we replace Mayo's production with the median at his position, the results are surprising. (Obviously this is an imperfect measure, as it ignores game flow, situation and the like, but it is useful for illustrating just how valuable Mayo has been to this team.)
Nonetheless, replacing Mayo's point totals in every game with the league average results in a change in outcome of at least five of Dallas' wins so far this season.
Five. Half of the teams wins. Without Mayo, the Mavericks at looking at a best-case scenario of 5-15. (The Dec. 1 tilt with Detroit projects as a tie if you replace Mayo's 27 points with 12, as Dallas won 92-77. And again, the Monday night win is one we'll leave out of this equation, as the Kings -- even though they entered Monday with three straight wins -- have now lost 17 straight in Dallas.) If you extrapolate that impact out over a full season, we are talking about a difference of 20 games.
Beyond simple wins and losses, lets look deeper: losing Mayo's elite-level production turns many of the team's current 10 losses into blowouts. Further, Dallas has lost twice in overtime this season, and they likely wouldn't have survived past regulation without Mayo's average of 24.5 points in both of those contests.
If Mayo had been a merely average NBA guard, Dallas would have been in two more games decided by five points or less, a situation in which Dallas is 3-3 this season.
Without Mayo, the narrative around this team would be drastically different. Instead of merely talking about a squad holding on fairly well without its superstar, we might be uttering words not associated with Dallas in over a decade: lottery-bound.
Such production almost guarantees Mayo a raise on his $4 million salary this season. (He has a player option for next year and will likely opt out.)
Mayo's production has not only altered Dallas' trajectory this season, but it is also turning around his own career. Coming into this season, Mayo was on the way to becoming a "bust," after being drafted third overall in 2008.
His fit in Dallas seems ideal, and was from start to finish against Sacto:
Now, the story isn't one of disappointment, but instead, if Mayo keeps this up, we should be having a different conversation.
No longer should we wonder whether Mayo is a worthy "Robin" to Dirk's "Batman." Now, with Dirk's continued absence, we should wonder if Mayo has played his way into usurping Nowitzki's All-Star spot.
Yes, we're serious. If a player's team is 10-10 with him after 20 games but might've, once we balance the stats, been 5-15 without him ... that player is an All-Star candidate.
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