Originally posted on Fox Sports Southwest  |  Last updated 7/16/12
DALLAS -- O.J. Mayo never quite become "The Next LeBron," as he was billed as a teen superstar. And one of the knocks on him in the NBA a knock even the Dallas Mavericks discussed privately was that he sometimes carries with him an ill-fitting superstar attitude. But on Monday, both the Mavs and Mayo came to a realization: He was a gifted 24-year-old without a team. They were a suddenly reloaded roster just a couple of items shy. And now Mayo is a Mav. He is explosive-but-erratic, a 2-guard who actually played better for the Memphis Grizzlies as a starter than he did as a backup and that might work in Dallas, where the lineup has been retooled to include a new point guard, center and backup big to work alongside holdovers Dirk Nowitzki and Shawn Marion but where a creative wing was still a necessity. Ovinton J'Anthony Mayo, who received a two-year deal that we believe is worth no more than 4.5 million for this season, might get first crack at that job. In the last few days, the Mavs have acquired PG Darren Collison, C Chris Kaman and CPF Elton Brand to play key roles. But who would play the 2-guard? Vince Carter, Roddy Beaubois, Dominique Jones and newcomer veteran Dahntay Jones remain candidates. But on paper, Mayo represents a shooting guard with some of the traditional 2-guard skills not seen in Dallas since the declinedeparture of Michael Finley. Maybe the trouble with O.J. Mayo (and maybe the reason he lasted as long as he did on the free-agent market before falling into the Mavs' laps on Monday) is about those expectations. There is a Mayo mythology that was written for him when Sports Illustrated and SLAM announced his stardom at 19. He was deemed the heir to LeBron James as the next dominant athlete out of high school. He signed with USC, helped march them into NCAA probation, became the third overall pick in the NBA draft, and was never quite the savior of the Memphis Grizzlies. He had his moment there but when Memphis became a true contender, it was Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, and Marc Gasol playing the key roles and O.J. working as a backup. Mayo isn't consistently great, can't reliably shoot a 15-footer; and isn't a PER machine. But he is a scoring wing, as evidenced by putting up 18.5 and 17.5 points per game in the first two years of his Memphis career. He can also hit the three, at a clip over 38 those inaugural seasons before regressing to 36 in limited minutes the past two campaigns. And he can defend, at least when he is fully willing. This is a new start for him at 24, a chance to put the "Next LeBron" stuff behind him and simply be good enough to fight for a starting job where being the "Next Finley" or the "Next Jet" is a lofty-enough goal. He needed a new home. The Mavs needed a 2-guard. They needed each other.
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