Rodrigue Beaubois and the Science of Uncertainty
Ah, March. In that fateful month, Beaubois averaged almost 19 minutes a game in 14 appearances. In those 19 minutes, he put up an average of 13.4 points. That's a lot of points in not much playing time. It included a 40-point break-out against the Kings, and 56% shooting for the month. Beaubois showed he could score prolifically in the NBA.
Enter the postseason, where Carlisle tightened up the rotation. Beaubois didn't play in three of the first five games, of which Dallas lost three. In the two others, he played a combined 10 minutes. The Mavericks didn't have massive offensive deficiencies in the first five games, save for Game 4, in which Dallas scored much less efficiently than usual. For much of the series, the Mavericks were just unable to stop the Spurs, and unable to score enough to outgun San Antonio.
But in Game 6, it was different. Way different. Dallas couldn't get anything going on offense early. The Mavericks scored eight points in the first quarter. Eight, in 20 possessions, which is unbelievably bad. Carlisle eventually inserted Beaubois, the prolific rookie scorer, with the Mavericks down 19 midway through the second quarter.
Beaubois scored eight points in six minutes, and Dallas had sliced six points off S.A.'s lead by halftime. To that point, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea had played a combined 17 minutes and scored zero points on 0-7 shooting. Beaubois clearly had something going.
Carlisle started Beaubois over Shawn Marion to open the third quarter, sliding Caron Butler to small forward. It worked! The loss of Marion's defense didn't hurt because the Spurs weren't really relying on Richard Jefferson. Beaubois scored eight more points in the quarter, Dirk Nowitzki went ballistic, and Dallas made it a game, briefly taking a one-point lead and finishing the third down only seven. The line-ups clearly worked better when Beaubois was in the game.
But the rookie sat out the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter, as the Spurs pulled away and held on. Carlisle held Beaubois out, instead keeping Kidd on the floor with Terry at the two and Marion then Butler at small forward. Kidd eventually hit his first and only bucket of the game (that's three points in 43 minutes, seriously) while Terry hardly touched the ball. The Mavericks ended up shooting 9-19 in the quarter. Was there really no place for Beaubois?
I don't believe in the hot hand, but I also don't believe the inexperienced can't excel in pressurized situations. There is something uncertain about Beaubois, even though Carlisle has watched him since July. You know Kidd, you know Terry, you know how they'll play, what they've done, what they can do. Beaubois is still a mystery. I get that.
But basketball -- hell, sport -- is sometimes about faith, and Beaubois has at no point in his nascent career given Carlisle or the Mavericks a reason not to believe. Per-minute, this kid was the league's most prolific rookie scorer this season. Beaubois deserved to be out on the court in the fourth quarter, and Mavericks fans deserved to see him. If that game is any indication how Carlisle will treat his aging veterans and his upstart kids going forward, expect similar results. Carlisle has always been considered a collaborative leader, but you'll have to convince me none of his assistants suggested Beaubois might have helped as the Spurs pulled away for the last time. Holding out Beaubois in the series and in the fatal fourth quarter were mistakes, and one can only hope Carlisle learns and improves.
In the meantime, given the success of Beaubois and fellow condor Tyreke Evans, long point guards are going to become draft premiums.