Friday, April 1, 2011

The Future of Roddy B

The Mavericks don't have many guys on the roster that can be considered building blocks for the next decade. In fact, they have one. Rodrigue Beaubois. With Dirk, Kidd, Terry, Marion, Haywood and Peja all deep into their 30's, and Chandler getting close, the Mavs are a very old team. Except for Roddy, who, at 23, has a long career ahead of him.

But what to do with Roddy? And, what is his upside? In 10 years, will he be looking back at an All-Star career, or will he be sacking groceries in Pointe-a-Pitre?

There seems to be some debate about what position Roddy is best suited for--point guard or two guard. My esteemed and mustachioed colleague Norm thinks Roddy is a two guard. The Mavs have made many personnel mistakes over the years, and it's my opinion that if they groom Roddy to be a two guard, they will be making one of their biggest mistakes ever. He is a point guard, plain and simple.

I am not a fan of short, slightly-built two guards (see Jason Terry). They always leave you at a defensive disadvantage. Most two guards in the NBA are between 6-4 and 6-6. So, if your two guard is 6-0 and skinny like Roddy, he can't guard Kobe. Now you have to try to play musical chairs on defense. I don't like that. Plus, your tiny two guard will always have a much bigger guy guarding him, which means he's got to work much harder on offense to get a shot off. I don't like that.

What I like is the idea of Roddy as the heir-apparent to Jason Kidd at point. Roddy's quickness is exceptional. He's very raw in all other areas of the game, and it will require strong coaching to get Roddy to become anywhere near the player that Kidd was in his prime, but the talent is there. Point guards who are lightning-quick are hell to deal with. Tony Parker turned into a Finals MVP because of his exceptional quickness in attacking the rim. And while Parker is not the best defender, his speed allows him to make up for a lot of mistakes.

The one thing that Roddy B doesn't have right now is a tightness to his game. Fast and slightly built guards (think Parker or Iverson) have very tight games. They have to. Roddy is very loose--loose with the dribble, loose with his jumper, loose with his passing, loose on defense. The first step toward becoming an All-Star point guard will be for Roddy (or the coaches) to tighten up his game. Parker used to be loose. Once he tightened things up, he became one of the best guards in the NBA. Point guards can't give away possessions because of poor ball handling, poor passing, or bad shots. Roddy has a lot to learn.

I love Roddy's upside, though. With that quickness (which can't be taught), he's already got a tremendous advantage. Now, he's got to learn how to control his dribble in traffic. He's got to learn how to make safe passes in pressure situations. When he concentrates, he's got a pretty looking jumper--yet too often it's a bunch of loose limbs going everywhere. But, he has the range--much more range than the Mavs' previous quick-point-guard-project, Devin Harris, ever had. What a deadly combination that could be down the road: a point guard that is a threat to blow by you and get to the rim, or a guy who will sink a three-pointer if you play off of him. That's tough to defend.

What I'm having a hard time measuring right now is where Roddy rates in the all-important basketball IQ department. I tend to chalk up his mistakes to youth, but I can't do that for much longer. I just can't tell right now if he's got a grasp on how the game is supposed to be played. The answer to that, in the end, may be what writes or destroys the legend of Roddy B.

Because of injury, this potential season of growth for Roddy never came to pass. Next year (provided we have an NBA season) must be the year that Carlisle commits to Roddy. It will (probably) be Kidd's last year with the Mavs, and in the NBA. The plan should be for Roddy to be the starting point guard from 2012 on. Carlisle can't let Kidd, or Barea, or anyone else get in the way. When you have one hope for the future on your roster, you are silly not to give him every opportunity to sink or swim. And, for the sake of the franchise, he better be able to swim.

Being from a tiny island where he grew up surrounded by lots of water, I'm betting he can swim.

Bonus note added one day later--free of charge: Roddy has always reminded me of Leandro Barbosa more than Tony Parker. It is this very reason that I believe the Mavs need to try to force the issue of Roddy as a point guard instead of some hybrid small-ish two guard (and Barbosa is 3 inches taller than Roddy!). If you can mold Roddy into a Parker, your franchise has a true building block. If Roddy becomes Barbosa, you have, well, Barbosa--a player with far less impact and value than a great point guard.


  1. I've covered Roddy the last two summers in Vegas where the Mavs played Roddy at the point and he failed miserably-- in fact, Jeremy Lin was much more effective at the point than Roddy this past summer.

    I wrote then and will continue to believe that Roddy will never be an effective PG in the NBA-- he's just not wired for that position. He's best playing off a playmaker such as Kidd.

    The real question is should the Mavs have tried to select Ty Lawson instead of Roddy in that draft if they were looking for the heir apparent to Kidd-- this is something i suggested as well before the draft to the Mavs leadership.

    I agree on Roddy being too small for the 2 position like Terry, but with a big PG like Kidd he is effective playing off him. Problem is when you have to use someone else at PG like Barea.

    Roddy is above average at taking the ball to the rim and finishing. As i've stated before, Roddy is better right now at finishing in the lane than Devin Harris will ever be-- the Mavs need to figure out how to exploit that more with his ability to finish in the lane. He will never develop a consistent outside shot with his release-- knuckleball shot -- and the assistant coaches agree'd with this assessment last summer.

    Only time will tell, but i see Roddy at best as a 6th man that can score (ala- Terry) off the bench. He's not a starter on a championship caliber team unless he's your 5th option.

    Nice write up- M

  2. Nice article Junior, but not sure I agree 100%. I know a basketball IQ comes with experience, but what about basketball instincts? Last night against the Lakers, I wanted to slap the stupid "deer in the headlights look" off his stupid face. I dont want to see that kind of fear in the face of my point guard of the future. I know it's unfair to compare him to hall of famers, but watching just about every second of Kid and Nash's first years, I don't remember seeing such spastic displays. Stay Hard.

  3. Fennsky--solid points. I would just say that early on the Spurs used to see the same stuff in Parker's game--so much so that they never thought they could win with him as their full-time point and went after Kidd in free agency. As it turned out, Kidd stayed in NJ, Parker worked on his shot and his poise and his learning of the NBA way of doing things, and turned into a terrific starting PG.

    Now, does Roddy have the intangibles that Parker has? Only time will tell. (If all Roddy ever becomes is a good 6th man, then the Mavs are in for a decade of really bad basketball)

  4. Completely disagree. The Mavs are wasting their time with this kid. Sure, he can jump, he's super fast and can shoot the 3 every now and then but he's still missing HUGE pieces that would make him a quality NBA PG.

    He doesn't have true PG ball handling ability. He doesn't have good court vision. He has the body of a 16 year old and most importantly, I don't think the kid has enough between the ears if you know what I mean.

    Sure, Parker had the deer in the headlights look a lot when he first joined the Spurs. Difference is, Parker's look was due to his lack of NBA inexperience, not due to pure basketball inexperience like Roddy.

    Parker's dad was a former professional player. His brothers also played basketball at college and professional levels. Parker also attended the National Institute for Sports and Physical Education in Paris before playing 2 years professionally in France.

    Other than RoddyB going to an open basketball camp and being noticed by Mickaël Piétrus before playing professionally in the French league, what other experience does he have?

    Look into his eyes and you can tell that he just doesn't get it. He's a great playground player. He can put up 40 against Golden State but I don't think he'll be a true leader like Parker.

    Like you said, he's a project but considering the fact that this team is OLD and running out of time, the Mavs don't need a project. How many project players actually pan out??? So far, I think the Mavs are batting .000 in the project category.

  5. After tonight's game I have officially given up on Roddy Faux Pas. He was TERRIBLE tonight, looked lost and defeated...

  6. This is all just window dressing for what is to come in June. I told my teen-aged daughter that two months of NBA playoffs are just a formality. We get to see the Lakers do it one last time for the Zen Master and ABC will have close ups of LeBron and Dwade as the seconds tick away ending game #7. Call it "form holds" or network ratings or "the-fix-is-in". Never a mystery guest in The Finals. Early round action serves to just showcase future talent and the mega-contracts that have ruined this league. Bring on the lock out...this thing needs a RE-BOOT.

  7. Mike the prognosticator, everybody!