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OJ Mayo To Dallas: A Q&A With A Memphis Writer

How good a fit will OJ be in Dallas and can he ever live up to the expectations of being the No. 3 overall pick in 2008?


To break down the Mavericks latest free-agent acquisition, we've brought in Matt Moore of CBS Sports, who also doubles as a diehard Grizzlies fan over at Hardwood Paroxysm. Follow him on Twitter at @hpbasketball.

1) OJ Mayo has never quite lived up to expectations as the No. 3 overall pick. Was it just a matter of him being over-hyped out of college or does he have still have upside potential?

He's not going to suddenly burst out and be a whole other player. He's not going to be some on-ball creating wizard. He still lacks explosion to the rim, still can't run point with any effectiveness, still can't break down any defense that's thrown at him. But in the right system, he can be deadly.

His rookie season he was phenomenal. It just so happened to be a disaster year for the Grizzlies (imagine that). A more wide-open attack, like how Rick Carlisle spaces shooters, and he can likely do quite a bit of damage. He can create his own shot and is willing to take it. He's not going to be a superstar but he can be a very good and patient killer on the right team if things click.

2) It looks like his role in Memphis decreased every season -- how much of that was the team changing around him and how much was the Grizzlies losing faith in him?

A year after Hollins took over, in Summer League 2010 he had an edict. "Mayo, you have to learn to play point guard." And he threw him out there with the wolves at Summer League. Mayo failed, miserably. And that was pretty much where Mayo's role with the team changed. He eventually shifted to the bench, because Hollins instituted a defense-first approach and trusted Tony Allen more. That says a lot about Hollins, a lot about Allen, and a lot about Mayo. What followed was a disaster season for him, that only eventually righted itself in the playoffs.

The truth is that Mayo's not a bad defender. He's a good scorer, not a great one. He just never fit with Hollins or the direction of the franchise, which doesn't really single out any one thing about Mayo's game. People will say he's a bad defender, but he has good lateral quickness and is instinctive in attacking the passing lane. People say he can't create his own shot but he's got solid mechanics on his jumper and can create space off the dribble.

But Hollins really never took a strong liking to him, at least not relative to the other guys. This isn't a flaw of Hollins, he built something successful his way. But it comes down to chemistry and fit and for the Grizzlies' finances, it worked out well that Mayo's value sunk at the same time the team's winning percentage rose.

3) Why did his field goal percentages slip from 46% as a starter to 41% as a bench guy the last two years?

This is a cop-out, but I'm going with it anyway because I believe it. Confidence. He was never the same after that Summer League fiasco and a few dreadfully slow starts really killed his percentage. The things that he went through in 2010, being benched, which had never happened to him before, his biological father he never knew being arrested, the fight on the plane, the banned substance violation, everything that could go wrong went wrong for him and some but not all was his fault.

In truth, he'd never been in a position where someone said "I don't trust you to score" and Hollins essentially did that with his actions. Again, not blaming Hollins, it worked and had sound logic, but you could see the effect it had on Mayo.

4) He's a little short (6'4) for a two guard and he doesn't seem to have elite athleticism -- how will he hold up defensively in Dallas, especially with an old and slow front-court behind him?

When the Grizzlies were dependent on individual defense to save them, Mayo struggled. When their team defense and help systems improved, 'OH MAGICALLY O.J. MAYO'S A QUALITY DEFENDER." The truth is that if you give him support from the frontcourt, he can survive. He'll hound you, that's one good thing. He's relentless and he attacks the ball at every turn. The effort is there. If you put him on an island, he's toast. But in combination with guys, he can be effective.

5) What do you expect Mayo will give the Mavericks next season?

Some nights where he looks awful, dreadful, and a waste of money, and some nights where you just shake your head and say "OJAM's got it going on tonight." And a lot of shots. A LOT. OF SHOTS.

For all the latest news and notes on the Mavericks free agency plans, stay tuned to the SB Nation Dallas story-stream as well as Mavs Moneyball.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.