Last time we saw Roddy Beaubois, we didn't see nearly enough.
After a sporadic rookie season highlighted by a 40-point game against the Golden State Warriors last March, the cat-quick combo guard almost single-handedly rallied the Dallas Mavericks to a win in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference first-round playoff series. You remember that late April night right?
Down 22 points in the first half and needing a spark, Beaubois entered Game 6 -- after playing only 10 minutes in the series' first five games -- and stunned the Spurs. He dunked off fast-breaks. He dribbled around a befuddled Tim Duncan for three-point plays. He nailed 3-pointers. He scored 18 points in 16 minutes, helping Dallas erase the deficit and then, just like that, went back to the bench in the fourth quarter as the Mavs lost and were eliminated by a No. 7 seed.
The talk after that game and into the summer was not only how head coach Rick Carlisle refused to play Beaubois, but how much better the 22-year-old Frenchman would be in his sophomore season. And then in August he broke his foot playing for France. Then, trying to rush back too quickly, he re-injured the foot again in October.
Tonight at American Airlines Center, after 10 months of waiting, we finally get the return of Roddy. The Mavs will beat the lowly Sacramento Kings, but the real story will be whether Beaubois can pick up where he left off.
I've been a Mavs fanatic since Day 1 of the franchise in 1980 and I can tell you Dallas has never had a player like Beaubois. I'm not saying he's going to be an MVP in this league, but his skill set is very similar to Allen Iverson. He's a natural shooter, and a creative scorer.
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Unstoppable first step. Low dribble. And, despite being only 6-foot and about 170 pounds, able to absorb contact in the lane and still finish with either hand. The Mavs are a good team without him. But Beaubois gives them something they've lacked for years -- a second option to Dirk Nowitzki with the shot clock dwindling.
Beaubois will probably screw up some set plays and make a bone-headed decision or two, but his ability to create shots -- for himself directly or indirectly for others -- off the dribble is unique and priceless.
J.J. Barea has been a savior in Dallas' recent rebound, helping them win a game or two with his slashing drives and 3-point shooting. But the return of Beaubois is why I was so dang depressed about the season-ending injury to Caron Butler. As great as those Mavs were back before Christmas -- 24-5 -- Beaubois would've been the final piece.
As it is now, he's still an asset that puts them back in the conversation among the NBA's best teams. The only fear is that the fractured foot will permanently rob him of explosiveness. See: Jim Jackson.