DALLAS, Texas - O.J. Mayo just turned 25, and if he had the chance to hop into a way back machine to tell an 18-year-old version of himself without fear of a butterfly effect or disrupting the time-space continium he would say:
"I would tell myself to stay hungry and don't believe in the good or the bad," Mayo told me a few days ago after a Dallas Mavericks practice. "When you are young people tell you the stuff you want to hear all the time. No one hardly ever tells you what you need to hear, just want you want to hear. Obviously I built a big-time ego and a comfort level like you made it and you arrived. There is so much more to prove, ways to get better. There is a long way to get better. You don't get into the Hall of Fame with a heck of a high school career."
When the Mavericks acquired the shooting guard from the Memphis Grizzlies in the offseason I was all in, primarily because of his size (6-4, 210), age (25) and talent. If the Mavs are going to have a good season, this acquisition has to hit and Mayo will be the team's second-leading scorer behind Dirk Nowitzki.
This can work big, provided Mayo regains his confidence as a scorer and a guy who is comfortable shooting the ball at all times. He can shoot more, and he has the ability to penetrate into the lane to score or create.
As a rookie, he averaged nearly 16 shots per game. That figure dropped every season, including last season's mark 11.1 per game. As the Grizzlies improved, Mayo's shots dropped. The Grizzlies had changed to a more inside oriented team, anchored around forwards Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.
By the time Mayo arrived to the Mavericks, he sounded totally screwed up. Was he a role player, or a scorer?
"You are a 1,000 percent right. I programmed myself to fit their role for the team to have success," Mayo said. "Now I'm battling to program myself as a scorer. I get here early and stay late to get that swagger back. It's like a broken computer."
The Mavs told Mayo to shoot, and to look for his shot.
Through four games, Mayo is averaging 14.3 shots per game, 21.5 points per game, and is shooting a ridiculous 18-of-27 from 3. That last figure is not going to hold, but if Mayo can average 16 points per game, the Mavs will have successfully made up for Jason Terry's lost production.
Whether Mayo can become the fourth-quarter scorer like Terry remains to be seen, but for the time being it does appear the computer is getting fixed.
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