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.