I remember watching the 2009 NBA Draft in my friend’s living room. The one player I did not want the Mavericks to draft was B.J. Mullens from Ohio State. I watch a lot of Big Ten games, and I don’t recall ever seeing Mullens do much of anything; plus, I don’t like his mustache. Naturally, as the way things seem to work out, the Mavs took him. A few minutes later, I was still deciding on the best way to trick my brain into supporting this draft pick when I heard the Mavs had been involved in a trade with the team directly behind them in the draft order, the Thunder, for a guy that was not B.J. Mullens. Obviously, this meant pretty much any name I heard would have been an upgrade, but this particular name struck absolutely zero chords in my head. The name was Rodrigue Beaubois, and it is safe to say that the name means a bit more to me now than it did back in June.
By now, we’ve all heard the physical specs: 6’2”, athletic, lanky, and quick, quick and more quick. During the summer and preseason, he has shown signs of being a terrific on-ball defender, and someone who could possibly have the Devin Harris-esque ability of getting into the lane whenever he so pleases. I miss that.
This brings me to Jason Kidd. After watching a full season with Kidd leading this team, he has grown on me. He is easily the smartest player on the court in any given game, and always seems to be in the middle of game-deciding plays late in the fourth quarter. But for all of his craftiness, there is little denying that Kidd simply doesn’t have the athletic ability that the new generation of point guards possess nowadays. Not that I blame him, it’s just that these guys have less years and mileage in the league; they should be able to beat Kidd off the dribble, and most of the time, they do.
Now, finally, I arrive at my point: If Rodrigue Beaubois can learn the nuances of the league and emerge as the clear back-up point guard to Kidd, he could end up being the most important Maverick of the season.
On the surface this may seem to be a little bit of reach. Beaubois has never played against the talent he will face in the NBA, and there will certainly be an adjustment period. What is just as certain, however, is that he has the raw ability to compete at this level. He also has Jason Kidd, one the smartest point guards in the history of the NBA, to guide him through the mental aspects of running a team. This doesn’t necessarily guarantee anything, Beaubois still needs to have his ears open, but it sure can’t hurt, can it?
So, is it possible that Beaubois can gather the smarts, and let his talent do the rest? I don’t see why not. The Mavericks could almost wipe out the Devin Harris trade if this worked out the way I see it in my optimistic mind. They would still have the leader, Kidd, but they would gain the young, athletic guard who can get by anybody and has the makings of a premier perimeter defender. A couple of the Mavericks’ biggest problems of recent years; sieve-like backcourt defense (which, after watching Gilbert Arenas torch us, I think can still be considered a “weak spot”) and a lack of penetration from the point guard position could be turned into strengths if Beaubois can find minutes and take advantage of them.
This, however, could be the problem. The backcourt is pretty crowded as it is, but in my opinion, even with the addition of Ross and the possibility of Howard at the 2, no one represents more potential for the Mavs to truly ascend in the West than Beaubois. Let’s be honest here: If they’re using Barea, Terry and Kidd as the on-ball defenders, Dallas simply will not get the stops that the best teams can get. They will be good, sure, because we’ve seen this formula before. It works, but not against the NBA’s upper echelon, not when it counts; we have seen that too.
Roddy Beaubois, to me, represents the Mavericks with a new, higher glass ceiling, an extra gear we may not even know about yet. This could all render itself moot, of course, if he doesn’t earn minutes, doesn’t respond to coaching, and mentally checks himself out on the end of the bench. But here’s hoping the Mavs throw him in the mix, and like the rest of us, see what happens next.
I wrote this for a contest for the blog Mavs Moneyball. I think I came in third or something. Out of around six.