When O.J. Mayo signed with the Milwaukee Bucks in July, I’m not sure that this is what he had in mind.
After revitalizing his career on a one-year deal with the Dallas Mavericks, in which he started all 82 games and averaged 15.3 points, the 6’4” shooting guard inked a three-year, $24 million contract with the Bucks.
This is not to say that Mayo was a slouch prior to his season playing with Dirk Nowitzki and company. The University of Southern California product was a fulltime starter in his rookie and sophomore seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies.
As a rookie in 2008-09, the now 26-year-old averaged what remains a career-high 18.5 points per game and his second best scoring output happened to be the 17.5 points per game that he posted in the following season. In both those seasons, Mayo averaged a tidy 38 minutes per contest.
In the following season of 2010-11, Mayo started just 17 of 71 games, with his production understandably slipping to 11.3 points per game in slightly more than 26 minutes of action.
The third overall pick in the draft class of 2008 experienced further change in 2011-12 in that he appeared in every game as a reserve. Looking for a new beginning, Mayo jumped to the Mavericks for the 2012-13 season and reestablished himself as an everyday starter.
Mayo caught the attention of the NBA based on his play with the Mavericks and he was able to parlay it into the biggest payday of his career. He was given a starting role with the Bucks, but the biggest question is whether he was expecting the team to be more successful.
After 23 games this season, Mayo was removed from the starting lineup to make way for the development of rookie Giannis Antetokounmpo. At the time of his demotion, Mayo had contributed averages of 13.8 points in 30.8 minutes on 39.7 percent shooting from the field. The team as a whole was 5-18 and the season was already looking lost.
Far from being a personal message to Mayo, or a wake-up call, it seemed more like the Bucks were waving the white flag on any chance of making the playoffs this season.
However, in many aspects, at least statistically, Mayo is actually performing better off the bench. In 10 games as a reserve, his scoring has only dipped to 12.6 points, despite playing six less minutes per game. Futhermore, his field goal accuracy has increased to 42.7 percent, his usage percentage has increased from 24.2 to 24.6, his offensive rating has increased from 94 to 99 points per 100 possessions, and there has been no noticeable drop-off defensively.
Just by looking at the numbers, it appears as though Mayo can make a significant contribution either as a starter or a reserve. I also have to give Mayo credit for not making a fuss about losing his starting job on a team that is yet to reach double-digit wins.
I’m just not sure how long that composure will last or on a more concerning level, whether he even cares.