Grade the Trade - The Grizzly Garbage Edition

So this trade keeps popping up:


To Minnesota:

G OJ Mayo

C Hasheem Thabeet


To Memphis:

PG Jonny Flynn

SF Wes Johnson

C Kosta Koufos  or  C Nikola Pekovic (Memphis Choice)


I'm going to post a poll here and over at the Memphis site.  For the purpose of the poll here, please only consider the trade from a Minnesota point of view - don't worry whether Memphis will accept it or not.  Don't let the Koufos/Pekovic option trip you up - assume Memphis takes the player you value higher.  I'll follow up comparing the two fan base reactions.

At risk of spoiling the ballot, I'm going to admit liking this trade... a lot.


Of all 5 guys involved, I see only one who will be an above average NBA player - OJ Mayo.  I perceive the other four players as total crap shoots who will require some sort of break through to be anything more than mildly useful rotation players.  All of them are capable of such a breakthrough, but I predict none will.

Let's look closer at Mayo - when he came into the league he was paired with another high usage gunner in Rudy Gay.  Both Gay and Mayo had pretty high usage rates at 25.6% and 24.5% respectively.  Mayo played starting minutes as a rookie, averaged 38 minutes a game, took 15.6 shots a game (finished 12th in the league in FG attempted), and sported a solid TS% of .539 and among SG finished 18th with an eFG of .495 (just ahead of Kevin Martin and Joe Johnson).  

For Mayo's second year, the Griz radically changed their team by adding another high volume scorer in Z-Bo and witnessed a break out year for Marc Gasol and some improvement by Mike Conely.  Mayo the gunner transformed his game to involve his teammates.  While Mayo's minutes were the same, his Usg% dropped to 20.7, his FGA/game dropped by 1.2, and he managed to improve his TS% to .551 and his eFG% to .516 (7th among SG, just ahead of Manu, Brandon Roy and Joe Johnson). 

While Mayo was sacrificing shots and touches, his teammates were not:

PG - Conley's FGA/game went up 1.3

SF - Gay's FGA/game stayed steady - rising 0.1

PF - The combo of Z-Bo and Arthur out shot the previous combo of Warrick/Arthur by 6.9 shots a game!

C - Gasol took 1.3 more shots a game from the previous year.

Some of these increases can be explained by better rebounding by Gasol/Z-bo and more minutes by the starters - but what is clear to me is that everyone but Mayo 'got theirs' last year.  Mayo sacrificed for his team, talked about becoming more of a facilitator and point guard - and while his assists did not reflect his words, he did improve his turn over rate - improving 2% (from 13.8% to 11.9%) - this translated into 50 fewer turnovers his second year. 

Mayo showed maturity, played within himself, and showed improvement while at the same time accepting a smaller role in the offense. 

This year has a been a different story, but I think the fault lies with the team, not the player.  Memphis committed themselves to Gay with the max contract, and have basically told Mayo he won't get paid.  Mayo sacrificed for his team, only to have his team de-value his contributions.  Maybe this hits to close to home for me, but I know how he feels, and it helps explain the complete implosion that has occurred this year. 

Mayo strikes me as the perfect 'change of scenery' candidate.   In Minnesota, he would again be scoring option 1 or 2 with Beasley (as he was with Gay), and he would have the opportunity to play for a contract. 

In terms of scheme, I love the idea of Mayo paired with Beasley.  You have two guys who can shoot, handle the ball, and complement each other - Mayo is best firing from distance and Beasley is best using his strong body driving to the hole.  In the triangle, the one offense meant to completely downplay the importance of the PG, Mayo may be the ideal PG.  This also offers the Wolves a chance to choose a new strategy - forget fast... they could go big:

PG - Mayo  6'4 (big for a PG)

SG - Brewer 6'9 (tallest SG in league?)

SF - Beasley 6'8 (more big than tall, but still big for a SF)

PF - Love 6'10 (legit if not extraordinary size for a PF)

C - Darko 7'0 Thabeet 7'3 (two legit 7 footers)


Compare the big lineup to our 'fast' lineup

PG - Ridnour  (not fast... Rubio maybe, but not Ridnour)

SG - Wes Johnson (not slow... but not exactly fast.  Mostly big for the position)

SF - Beasley (again, more big than fast)

PF - Love (not fast)

C - Darko (not fast)


IMHO - a trade for Mayo makes the team better, gives it a second legitimate scoring option, and fits in the preferred scheme of the coach.  The cost for this is the GM's dream of speed  and two shining smiles.

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