NBA Roundtable

Mayo’s Growth

In General NBA on October 21, 2009 at 7:43 pm

Good article in the Memphis Commercial

The 6-3 guard has never deferred to anyone in his basketball life. But Mayo now cheerfully operates as the guy most tuned into what it’s going to take for the Grizzlies to be successful this season.

He has brought a pass-first, do-the-little-things mindset to training camp in hopes of accomplishing a few things.

Mayo desperately wants to win, become more of a complete player and force the Griz to be cohesive, even at the expense of his own game.

The second-year guard and runner-up to Chicago’s Derrick Rose for last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year award almost sounds as if he’s happier about not being asked to be a dynamic scorer.

“I figure I can do all of the intangibles,” Mayo said as the Griz prepare to face the Miami Heat tonight in preseason action. “You may not see 30 points that night but if you look across the (statistical) line you can see I dibble-dabbled a little everywhere. I’m going to just try to get the job done.

“In order for the Memphis Grizzlies to be successful we need to come together and play for each other. Man, last year wasn’t a pretty sight. So if we work together we can get over this hump.”

His teammates are recognizing the efforts

“He’s definitely trying to become more than just a scorer,” Gay said. “I really respect him for that. All of us are trying to do different things this year. We have to because we have a different team. But I see him adjusting a lot more.”

Griz point guard Mike Conley said Mayo shows the most characteristics of being a “glue guy” among the starters.

So too has his Head Coach Lionel Hollins

“That’s growth in a basketball player — to learn what the game means versus just coming out and trying to score,” Hollins said. “It’s good decision-making, drive and kick the ball out to somebody. He’s improved a lot in that area. He’s improved his ball handling, and he’s improved in making the right play. He doesn’t always do it but he’s working at it.

“I figured he would come back improved because most good players do. He had a good rookie year but he was nowhere near where he’s going to be if he keeps putting this kind of work in. He’s a competitor.”

Mayo has found his mentors

There was a concern within the organization last season about a perceived low point for Mayo — adverse influence from comeback kid Darius Miles. Mayo, though, clearly takes his career more seriously than he’s given credit for.

His mentors today?

Hollins and Denver point guard Chauncey Billups.

Mayo reveres his second NBA coach after starting under rookie head coach Marc Iavaroni. Billups, along with Washington’s Gilbert Arenas, tutored Mayo this summer.

“Chauncey Billups, in my mind, is the best leader in our league,” Mayo said. “Chris Paul is a great point guard. Deron Williams is great. Rajon Rondo. But Chauncey Billups is by far the No. 1 leader in our league. Just being around him and seeing how he leads on and off the court was a big thing.

“And coach Hollins is a very passionate coach. If you can’t play hard for that man then you don’t want to play this game. He’s by far the most passionate coach I’ve ever had. I’ll leave it at that. He is the guy for this job; to get the monkey off this organization’s back. … He understands that his job could be on the line so he’s not going to tell us anything wrong. We just have to go out and execute what he tells us to the best of our abilities. I’m willing to follow his lead and then do whatever it takes to win.”

It’ll be interesting to see where and how this progress materializes.

Until then, there’s not much to say on the subject … other than it’s great stuff to hear.

  1. Although it might sound crazy to some … hey, what else is new 🙂 … there’s a great deal to like about the current roster for the Grizzlies, in comparison with some of the other teams across the NBA this season, when considering the good young talent on their squad:

    PG – Mike Conley, Mike Taylor and Marcus Williams
    G – OJ Mayo and Allen Iverson [Marco Jaric?]
    SF – Rudy Gay and Sam Young [Trey Gilder?]
    PF – Zach Randolph, Darrell Arthur and DeMarre Carroll
    C – Marc Gasol, Hasheem Thabeet and Hamed Haddadi [Steven Hunter?]

    Head Coach – Lionel Hollins

    Others would do well to remember exactly what the Celtics’ roster looked like BEFORE they made their deal for Ray Allen and completed the Kevin Garnett trade.

    Not saying that the Grizzlies are actually going to pull off something of that magnitude down-the-road … but, that when you look at the calibre of young players on their current roster, mixed in with the questionable but talented older boys, “the pieces” are definitely there for Memphis to turn their ship around in a hurry, should the right set of players appear on the trade horizon in the not-too-distant future.

  2. Khandor,

    Yes. Memphis are in a fantastic position to make a big move in the standings if they make aggressive moves in the trade market.

    They were in an even better position prior to signing Zach Randolph and Allen Iverson. These moves (wasted cap space) have reduced their ability to make major moves.

    I’ve seen no sign that their management/ownership understands the opportunities that are in front of them … I fully expect them to waste the moment.

  3. Great article, I’m surprised that the name Allen Iverson wasn’t brought up. Being that he is being perceived as the main roadblock for the progression of OJ Mayo, Rudy Gay, and Mike Connely. I admire OJ’s mindset and work ethic in trying to expand his game and not just trying to be one dimensional. He could easily be the new school Ben Gordon, but wants to branch out and help other progress on ‘his’ team.

    Allen Iverson is also known as a prolific scorer, but you cant put him in the same category as Ben Gordon because his assists and steals in his worst season still trumps Ben Gordon’s best years for assist and steals.

    So Mayo can look at it in that sense. Even though Iverson is known as a “Team Killer” he helped Samuel Dalembert and Kyle Korver in getting paid out there in Philly by producing career highs in scoring and fg%. We all know that Dalembert and Korver can’t create their own shots, With all the attention that Iverson received when he had the ball in his hand it took pressure off of those two and helped them get easy and most of the time uncontested shots(Dalembert dunk or Korver 3).

    Guys @ NBART will the Grizzlies win 30 or 30+ games this season? is that achievable?

  4. Hey Lance,

    I’d be pessimistic and take the under on 30 wins … but it’s definitely possible (achievable). The Grizzlies have enough talent to make that happen.

    I’m thinking more in the high 20’s. So fairly close to that 30 win mark.

    How well (1) Iverson plays off the bench, and, (2) ready Thabeet is to contribute, and, (3) how much their youngsters developed in the offseason are the key variables.

    If they got a lot of internal development (Mayo and Gay in particular) then the Grizzlies could easily surpass the 30 win mark, likely surpass 35 wins, and maybe even threaten for a .500 record depending on how much progress they show.

    I’m taking a “wait and see” stance on their progress though. I’ve been disappointed with Gay’s development so far, and I’m not sold about Mayo making major improvements while playing the shooting guard position. That’s why I’d be a bit more pessimistic than others as we enter the season.

  5. I’m extremely concerned for Mayo’s development with Iverson on the team now. If Iverson can really turn the corner, and play off the bench, he would be a great resource for Mayo. Otherwise, if what happened in Detroit happens again, this could be bad for Mayo, who is shaping up to be one of my favourite players in the league.

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