Bucks Diary

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Rethinking OJ Mayo

I'm starting to rethink my initial assessment of USC's OJ Mayo.

I previously labeled him a toxic prospect because his college productivity numbers are not good, and his game has some scary bad elements to it. He takes poor shots, he relies too much on the three pointer, he turns the ball over way too much, and he doesn't rebound nearly enough for his size. Normally I'd want to stay the hell away from a player with that profile.

But in this case I'm reconsidering. Mayo has excellent size for a 2 guard, and apparently he isn't the prima donna I stereotyped him to be. But mainly I'm doing it because of three lines contained in the "Strengths" column of his scouting jacket:

• Perimeter defense
Hands in passing lanes
Work ethic

To a Bucks fan, those are three lines of poetry. The problem, of course, is that the Bucks don't really have the luxury of carrying an unproductive wingman on their current roster, and they can't really justify drafting such a player so high. But I'm so thoroughly disgusted with our long defensive drought, I would consider it.

Maybe his poor college numbers are a result of the lack of talent around him at USC. Maybe he can be coached up. And if his defensive skills are legit, he could provide the Bucks with one of the two elements that can dramatically improve their team defensive play: a tenacious perimeter defender -- the other being a big ugly bruiser at the 4 or 5.

Of course, if we got him I assume that would mean the Michael Redd Era would be over in Milwaukee. At this point, though, that's sounding less and less bad. I just can't take another season of the kind of bad defense I keep seeing every winter.

I'm not exagerrating, either. According to basketball-reference.com, the Bucks have been in the bottom half of the Association in defensive rating for every season since 1991. That's incredible. That's sickening. That shit has to end.

One Last Point: The Moncrief Factor

I didn't realize this, but the 80s Bucks were actually built on defense. In fact, for every season from 1979 to around 1987 the Bucks were among the top defensive teams in the Association (by the same efficiency rating). Those seasons correspond exactly to the years Sidney Moncrief was healthy and able to play a full schedule for the Bucks.

That makes sense. Moncrief was one hell of a defender... he was 6'3'', but he played like he was about 6'8'' with those arms. And remember that spider crouch? From time to time I think he could actually guard bigger guys like Larry Bird. He was a phenomenon. The original No. 4.

Now I'm not saying that Mayo would ever be anywhere near Moncrief. But we need someone like Mayo to restore credibility to our perimeter defense. That's why I'm going against my better judgment and giving him a second thought.


At March 5, 2008 at 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Ty I just posted this today in the NBA/NFL draft value but I'm not sure how far you go back to look, and since you mention Moncrief it kind of fits here too.

Their chart with every pick since the 70s had Moncrief below Ray Allen on the Win Score chart for #5 picks.

First I thought, Ray hasn't played through his whole decline yet, maybe that helps explain it. But then I looked to the left and right and saw both Ben Gordon and Antoine Walker right on par with Sid, that was even more surprising.

Is great defense that much of an intangible? I guess Sid's career scoring avg dropped off a lot by the end, and if I remember in his prime he seemed to be closer to a 20-5-5 guy than a consistent triple-double threat, but still. It seems to question either Sid's legacy or something about the Win Scores they used.

At March 5, 2008 at 4:22 PM, Blogger frank said...

Glad you've come around a bit on Mayo. I don't know if you saw the RealGM discussion about him but I have really become intrigued with him for his defensive potential, and obviously he has a lot of potential offensively if he learns to become a better decision-maker.

While he's not the finished product by any stretch of the imagination on either end, there are decidedly few guys who will be available that have the possibility of being great two-way players. Maybe Mayo never makes it that far, but if the Bucks are in the mid-lottery and have a shot at him I'd be happy to roll the dice. I'm guessing he ends up being a little out of our reach though.

At March 23, 2008 at 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

again Mayo IS PRODUCTIVE...20 ppg in college is more than solid


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