Just a month ago, the NBA free agency pool was overflowing with big names that many teams were eager to reel in. Now, the pool is rapidly shriveling up, leaving one man as the big fish in the small pond of free agents — O.J. Mayo.
The last few weeks have been very busy for some of the NBA's biggest All-Stars.
One of the greatest big men to play the game, Tim Duncan, surprised no one when he re-signed with the San Antonio Spurs. Deron Williams, who was widely considered the most talented and sought after free agent this offseason, turned down his hometown Dallas Mavericks and re-signed with the Brooklyn Nets. Boston Celtics fans were happy to see future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett rejoin the team, but then had to watch the NBA's all-time three-point leader Ray Allen leave them for the Miami Heat.
With these players now off the market, in addition to Gerald Wallace, Brook Lopez and Jason Terry, Mayo is left holding all the cards.
A highly-touted player drafted out of USC with the third-overall pick in 2008, Mayo is an explosive player that can help virtually any team's current situation. The 6-foot-4 shooting guard has experience in the starting role, where he played his first two seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. Over the last two seasons, however, the Grizzlies moved Mayo to their sixth-man spot coming off the bench.
Mayo has the athleticsm and mentality to step back up into a starting role, if necessary. He can run the floor in transition, takes care of the ball (averaging only 2.1 turnovers per game for his career) and has shown he can score in the half court set as well, averaging 15.2 points per game over four seasons.
But if all his upsides aren't enough to land him on a team that needs a starter, Mayo is a player capable of instant offense off the bench. He has never been an Allen or Kobe Bryant-type player who can knock down every shot he takes. But Mayo has a switch that's easy to flip, and it doesn't take him long to impact a game.
Over the last two seasons, Mayo has averaged over 26 minutes per game coming off the pine, shooting .408 from the floor. He is a capable defender, and helps out on the glass averaging 3.3 rebounds per contest.
Despite his athleticism, Mayo isn't a transcendent player by any means. But he is by far the best free agent in the NBA's current depleted pool. And compared to the other top free agents at his position, Mayo stands alone.
His closest competition is former Houston Rockets shooting guard Courtney Lee. Over his four-year career, Lee has started in less games than Mayo (135 compared to 180), and is viewed as a three-point threat more than a scorer with the complete package Mayo has. Lee has averaged 10 points a game over his career, compared to Mayo's 15.2, while only shooting slightly better from three-point land (.386 compared to Mayo's .375).
At other positions, Mayo still offers more to a franchise.
Both D.J. Augustin and Aaron Brooks round out the top remaining point guards, assuming that Jeremy Lin re-signs with the New York Knicks. But both Augustin and Brooks are likely to be backup point guards, who lack the explosiveness to change a game off the bench like Mayo does.
At only 24-years-old, Mayo still has the potential to develop into a quality starter in the NBA, which is why many teams around the league agree that Mayo would be a perfect fit for their franchise.
According to ESPN, the Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics are interested in snagging the shooting guard. With at least four teams vying for his signature, it doesn't look like Mayo will be available very long.
On Friday, the former USC standout put pressure on three of those teams, as he announced a visit with the Phoenix Suns.
"Just landed in phx for first meeting!" Mayo tweeted. "I haven't signed, just meeting."
Demand for an explosive, young shooting guard with potential is very high at the moment, and with many of the NBA's stars signed, supply is very low. Which leaves Mayo holding all the cards.
Powered by WordPress.com VIP