Here’s a life philosophy as it relates to Mavs rookie Roddy Beaubois: Never bet against a guy who shows up at a social gathering with his own deck of cards.
“These?’’ Roddy said to me the other night at the Frisco D-League franchise party. “Oh, I do tricks.’’
(Look closely at the photo at left. That really is a deck of cards he'd just pulled out of his pocket.)
After watching the French-speaking, Guadaloupe-born, fast-as-a-photon kid start his third game of the season in Detroit and perform the same tantalizing magic as he had in two previous turns with Dallas’ first team …
Yes. Roddy Beaubois can “do tricks.’’
With the wheels coming off the plan to start Josh Howard at the 2-guard, coach Rick Carlisle has through the first 10 games of this season patchwork-quilted at the position. “It’ll be based on matchups and that will vary from game-to-game,’’ he’s said.
But the time for it to “vary’’ less is coming … as Roddy Beaubois is coming on.
In his first career start, Nov. 4 at New Orleans, he shared the stage with Chris Paul but scored Dallas’ first nine points. He finished with that total (on 4-of-6 shooting, along with an assist) while logging 14 very controlled minutes (and none down the stretch) in an OT loss.
“French Cuffs’’ second start came Saturday in Minnesota in an 89-77 victory, and we see a trend: He quick-started again, scoring Dallas’ first seven points while again eventually giving way to Jason Terry and JJ Barea for the important minutes later. (Roddy finished with nine points on 3-of-7 shooting, with two rebounds, two assists and a block.)
On Sunday, Beaubois started at Detroit and scored 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting, with four assists, a rebound and two steals. Again, along with the obvious decision to give playing time to Jet, Carlisle favored JJB in the backcourt when it came to the nail-biting fourth quarter. Given Barea’s now-veteran understanding of what the coach wants and what the team needs, there’s not much of an argument against playing it safe regarding Beaubois.
But the argument is coming.
In the Hornets game, Roddy logged the 14 minutes while JJB got 28.
In the Minny game, Roddy logged 15 minutes while JJB got 20.
In Detroit? Roddy logged 19 minutes, just a tick behind JJB’s 21.
The gap is closing. The time is coming. The tricks are just beginning.
“I don’t get intimidated by it all,’’ Roddy told me the other night while palming that deck of cards. “It helps a little bit if I know I am about to play. I know I am learning.’’
Potentially, Beaubois is a vastly superior defensive player when compared to Jet and JJB. (But not necessarily to Quinton Ross, the defensive specialist who started the season’s first four games at the 2.) Offensively, his potential as either a 1 or a 2 is as apparent to all of us as it was to the Mavs when they acquired the 21-year-old near the end of the NBA Draft. And athletically? Hey, he is about as fast a sprinter as there is in the NBA and he is by trade a 6-2 point guard for whom the Mavs run alley-oop plays.
Roddy Beaubois is pretty much superior to everybody athletically.
He is a rookie. From Guadaloupe. Who played for a second-level pro team. In France. And along with learning basketball, he is learning English.
So while we can yell, “Roddy, Proud And Loud!'' (props to Art Garcia), we have to have patience.
But he certainly demonstrated solid basketball instincts on an assortment of offensive possessions. When he moves to the basket with the ball, he is completely in control of his body and of the situation. When he has the ball on the break and on the secondary break, he’s quickly learned to either center the ball to Jason Kidd or to find Dirk Nowitzki in one of The UberMan’s pet spots. And when in doubt? Roddy can launch the 3, as he did twice in Detroit, for two more makes.
The defensive learning curve is a steeper one. Again, it’s not an issue of athleticism; on defense, Roddy’s cool demeanor is sometimes not an asset. Coaches say that more intensity would be a plus. Still, in the Detroit game he recorded two steals that showed off his ability to play this game at a different speed than most everybody else.
"All I know,'' Mark Cuban tells me, "is that when he is on the floor, good things happen. Electricity happens. The other guys, and the fans watching the game, all respond to that electricity.''
Tonight comes yet another challenge: Dallas is at Milwaukee, and if Roddy plays a key role he will likely do it against fellow rookie guard Brandon Jennings, who scored 55 in a game this weekend in a win over the Warriors.
Can Beaubois play at Jennings’ level? Or is it enough for us to patiently learn that he can play at the NBA-starters’ level at all?
At the Frisco D-League party, as I was trying to learn more about Roddy’s sleight-of-hand skills, veteran NBA guru Del Harris approached. He exchanged pleasantries with the kid and then embraced him with two final words.
“Bonne chance,’’ Harris said to Beaubois.
Good luck? Roddy Beaubois may not need luck … as long as he holds the cards.