Rook Check: Recognizing O.J. Mayo's Successful First Month in the NBA
Most of the talk about this year's rookie class has been reserved for Bulls sensation Derrick Rose. This isn't much of a surprise, considering that Rose has been an absolute beast so far this season. However, with all of the hype surrounding Rose, many have failed to acknowledge the accomplishments of Grizzlies rookie O.J. Mayo (okay, not everyone).
Through seventeen games Mayo is averaging 21.9 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.3 steals. He does have a slight turnover problem (2.59 per game), but he's a rookie, so he'll more than likely improve in that area. He also still looks a little lost on the defensive side of the ball, but the effort and willingness to get better on that side of the ball is definitely there.
What we do know is that this guy can score and score pretty efficiently. As a rookie, he's already shooting a better percentage than Kobe Bryant has throughout his career. As well, he's already had four 30-plus-point efforts and ten 20-plus-point efforts. He's also scored double figures in every game this season. Those are the kind of results that great shooting guards like Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Ray Allen, etc. didn't come close to producing in their first month in the league. Memphis is still a pretty bad team and that sometimes can lead young players to throw up terrible shots (see: Kevin Durant during the PJ Carlesimo days), but for the most part Mayo has been taking pretty good shots and playing with the poise of a veteran. When he learns how to get to the line more consistently, he is going to be even more difficult to stop. No wonder Pat Riley was so in love with the guy. Could you imagine a Dwyane Wade and O.J. Mayo backcourt?
I have to say that I couldn't be happier for Mayo. The guy has had to endure some outrageous scrutiny over the last five years or so. He has had people call him a thug, a spoiled brat, and label him as everything that is wrong with basketball (Just Google "OJ Mayo thug" to see what I'm talking about). However, it seems like the guy has done nothing but work his butt off to become a great basketball player. Off the court, Mayo seems to have handled himself perfectly. He's come into the league and kept his mouth shut and focused on nothing but basketball.
I'm disappointed that the same folks that were so quick to try and tear this guy down haven't written one piece about how this young man from a very shaky poor single-parent background has come into the league and turned himself into a pro's pro. I have a feeling that no matter how well Mayo does this year, none of the folks that tried to vilify him will come out and admit that they were wrong about the kid.