Thursday, March 27, 2008
During his first (and most certainly only) season at USC, OJ Mayo has become a lightening rod for criticism. His antagonistic, brash style has rubbed many onlookers the wrong way. And though talented, Mayo has failed to live up to the impossible "The Next Lebron James" expectations that preceded him.
Lost in the all the hoopla is that OJ Mayo is a fantastic guard who will be a lottery pick come draft night. Lets take a look at his game.
A cut 6'4'' 210 lbs, Mayo has tremendous body control and all-around athleticism; he looks like he could have played wide receiver in the NFL if this basketball thing didn't work out. Great handle with a lethal crossover and an outstanding first step. In the halfcourt, he has the ability to pull up on a dime and drain the mid-range jumper or go all the way to the rim for creative layups or explosive slams. Has legit NBA 3 range and is a solid free throw shooter. Solid passer with good court vision; he may shoot a bit too often in college because he can get his shot off so easily but he is surprisingly unselfish with the ball at times. Defense is very good, bordering on outstanding; he is tremendous picking up his man at 35 feet and staying in front of him and has quick hands for steals. An extremely confident player who has the courage to take and make the clutch shot.
For all his strengths, Mayo struggles to fit into a team-oriented style of play. Frankly, he is a ball-hog. He needs the rock in his hands to be effective; he does not move well off screens and does not fit as a catch-and-shoot guy. FG % is low because he shoots too often. Launches too many 3's or forced shots over defenders in the mid-range. Rebounding is average for a player of his physical ability. Struggled against Russell Westbrook of UCLA and though Westbrook projects as an All-NBA caliber defender, it raises questions of how tough defense affects Mayo's offensive game. His intangible are below average; he comes off as antagonistic and arrogant on the court. Does not seem to make his teammates much better.
On talent, Mayo should be a top 5 pick come draft night but the problem is ball-hogging guards are about as out of style in the NBA right now as tapered stone-washed jeans (thank you Stephon Marbury and Steve Francis!). The problem with Mayo is that he will never be able to lead a team to a title as a first man but his game as it is now is completely predicated around being "The Man". A tremendously talented but fatally flawed player, he projects as a cross between Larry Hughes and Stephon Marbury in the league. Look for him to go between 4-10 on draft night.