The Memphis Grizzlies have been dealing with this issue since the trade was announced back in June of 2008. Chris Wallace said he foresaw Mayo becoming like a Chauncey Billups PG eventually in the league. Lionel Hollins has said Mayo is not a PG. That type of confusion within the Grizzlies management’s message to the fans have frustrated many people.
And now it appears it isn’t just the Grizzlies and their fansthat are confused.
O J Mayo was brought into Las Vegas to work out for a spot on the USA National team for next season. He started off playing almost exclusively at Shooting Guard but when Devin Harris came up lame guess who Coach K and the staff moved to fill his rotation spot? That’s right. O J Mayo took over at the point in his absence.
According to O J Mayo at the awards ceremony for winning the Rookie of the Month award in the Western Conference for April he played both positions during camp. He stated at the ceremony that he loved throwing back doors to Rudy (sounds like a PG) but he was clearly brought to camp to play SG. So which is it?
Why does it have to be just one?
I believe O J is acombination of both positions without a need to classify him solely either way? O J’s career may end up with him playing more PG because of his size or he may end up playing SG exclusively because he lacks thefoot speedto guard most PG’s in the league and the ball handling skills to handle the pressure bringing the ball up the court. No one knows what Mayo will eventually become in the NBA.
One thing should be clear to those who watched Mayo play last season with a critical eye however. He was more effective last season playing as a shooting guard. According the 82games.comMayo had a PER rating of 16.3 as a shooting guard and 12.7 as a point guard. His opponents had per ratings of 17.4 as a shooting guard and 16.4 as a point guard. So in total Mayo had a -1.1 PER rating at shooting guard and a -3.7 PER rating as point guard. Mayo did average more assists as a PG than a SG but that is to be expected from the point guard position. Mayo also averaged 5.5 TO’s per 48 minutes at the point but only 3.3 TO’s per 48 minutes as SG. His eFG% (effective FG %) was also better playing as a SG than a PG.
A theory is starting to gain weight that Mayo doesn’t have to play PG to be an effective ball control player especially at the end of games. The NBA has taken a noticeable turn toward non-PG’s running the offense at the end of games. In the NBA finals the players running the offense at the end of games were Hedo Turkoglu and Kobe Bryant. Neither of these players is considered a true point guard. If Conley continues to develop a solid perimeter shot he can use his speed to get the ball up the court and then let Mayo control the ball in the halfcourt while he spots up for open threes.
The problem last season with that scenario was that Mayo wasn’t that effective in crunch time. By crunch time I mean the 4th quarter or overtime, less than 5 minutes left andneither team ahead by more than 5 points. He shot below 40% from the field in those situations (although his eFG% was 44.2%). Mayo scored a lot of points at the end of games but he wasn’t that effective doing it in other words.
Mayo was a rookie last season and played a large number of minutes which has a big effect on jump shots at the end of games. With Sam Young on the team Mayo should be able to rest more earlier in the game so his legs won’t be so tired at the end. Also, Mayo will be more experienced so his shot selection should improve.