The Last Rites of O.J. Mayo

If you look at your hands every once in awhile, you’ll see a new line start to form, a crack stretching across your palm, pressing against the other lines and scars, and when you make a fist or fold your thumb in, you’ll wonder how you ever got the hands that you have. I have a burn in the middle of my right hand that I hope eventually will wear down into another line, from an unfortunate kitchen incident months ago involving grabbing a saucepan filled with hot butter. I hope that when O.J. Mayo looks at his hands sitting in a private jet late at night, he can blame himself for what he’s become.

Last winter, I played a lot of NBA 2K10, and found myself trying to trade for O.J. Mayo despite whatever team I had taken in franchise mode. Mayo was a straight combo guard in the video game, and at least he looked like one in real life before Tyreke showed up, and there was major potential between virtual O.J. and real life O.J. This fall, I seriously expected him to bump back from his lesser numbers last year (which, albeit misguidedly, I blamed a lot on Zach Randolph’s arrival and Marc Gasol’s ascension), but he's shown a sick knack for losing all of the fundamentals of his game. In-text scouting report: looks lost. And even if he manages to pull away from all of this bull this season and play his way off the bench (Mayo was pretty awful last night, too), he will have this time to ponder how he let the Winner Of The Summer Of Lebron and The Rookie They Were Weird About Signing outplay him in such a dastardly fashion.

Sometimes I feel like the more elaborate the fantasy here, the more pleasurable it will be. Mayo is able to recover from his second year doldrums and achieve a comeback in his third season. His ball-handling and drive improves as the strong Conley/Mayo backcourt is able to provide a youthful depth that is missing from a lot of other Western Conference contenders: the Spurs are too weird and old; the Suns are all shots; despite strong play from the point, the Jazz and Nuggets are just confusing. Mayo is able to shrug off his slump that may have started last season. The Grizz take on a significantly easier schedule*** as time goes by, they contend for the eighth seed. Except they definitely won't.

If you want to get really depressed about the prospects for Mayo in 2010+, check out this great quote from a Free Darko (I hate you Shoals) "guest lecture" from a few years ago and truly feel the pain:
The question of "flash" also seems irrelevant here; O.J. seems to play the game with a bit more Rucker in him than Rose does, but who pulls off more Pistol Pete dribble moves and wrap-around passes than anyone in the league? Steve Nash, that's who.
A year later, dude was comparing him to Rose some more, and Joe Johnson, and Beasley (oh, Beasley). Maybe the pressure of being a combo player on a team with an emerging point guard got to him (no ball in your hand, no power). Maybe it was deferring to Rudy Gay's Contract. But even with the rock in his mitts, nothing is compared to what O.J. Mayo has on his hands.

* As long as it doesn't have to do with my fantasy league
** Noting the obvious decline and statistical anomaly, I managed to get rid of Mayo and J.J. Hickson in exchange for Blake Griffin and Dorell Wright early on. Griffin is hedging bets but Wright is destroying my FG%.
*** Their schedule is 7th in winning percentage so far this year (.518).


Dennis G. Schmuck said...

lovin all the memphis grizzlies talk. i might do a piece comparing hasheem thabeet and hameed haddadi eventually

kelly said...

gleaned from that hoops hype sneaker database: it turns out that thabeet somehow has his own shoe:

and it's amazing that our favorite teams turned out to be minnesota and memphis. anybody wanna write a daily sacramento kings update?

Dennis G. Schmuck said...

or at least a daily demarcus cousins update

kelly said...

in theory we could just have his xbox gamer score and twitter feed rss'd directly into a daily post. i'll bet he talks mad trash while playing call of duty 6

Chris said...

at least for me, the grizzlies are one of the more interesting teams in the league. i cant wait until kevin starts posting stuff about the 76ers

Chris said...

also! i NEVER get to watch their games so they're even more of an enigma for me. at least the gsw are sometimes on nba tv fan night or whatever

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