Stats: Per-game: 21.4 minutes, 9.1 points, 1.6 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.9 turnovers, 4.1 three-pointers attempted
Per-36: 15.3 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 turnovers, 6.9 three-pointers attempted
Percentages: 44.3 FG%, 39.8 3PT%, 87.3 FT%, 55.2 eFG%, 57.3 TS%
Advanced (explanations): 13.8 PER, 13.2 AST%, 18.9 Usg%, 9.9 TOV%, 114 ORtg, 113 DRtg, 0.5 WSAA (Win Shares Above Average).
Pradamaster: Clearly, Roger Mason was the biggest surprise of the 2007/2008 Wizards season. With Gilbert Arenas sidelined for most of the year, Mason, who nearly didn't even make the roster, took advantage of his opportunity and emerged as one of the better third guards in basketball. He gave the team the deadly three-point shooter that Jarvis Hayes was supposed to be and even impressed me with his ball-handling. The biggest worry with Mason was that he would struggle handling the ball, but while he didn't pass well, he was excellent at holding onto the basketball, turning in over on just 9.9 percent of his possessions, a mark good for second on the team behind Antawn Jamison and ahead of Antonio Daniels. In short, Mason was a godsend this year.
It's often said that it takes a while to learn the Princeton offense, and Mason is proof of that. The jump in his shooting percentages was astronomical. In 2006/07, he hit only 33 percent of his threes, with a 42.2% effective field goal percentage and a 44.3% true shooting percentage. Those numbers jumped to 40 percent, 55.2% and 57.3%, respectively this season. My theory is that he was overanxious with his three-point attempts in 06/07, firing whenever he had any sort of daylight, no matter the situation. He still shot a lot of threes this year in bad spots (6.9/36), but he displayed an ability to drive and was far smarter in his attempts. More importantly, instead of just hanging out in the corner waiting for someone to pass the ball, he finally embraced the importance of constantly moving in the Princeton. The end result was a banner year shooting the ball.
Mason didn't really contribute much in the other areas of the game, but really, who expected him to do so? His job was to hit open shots and provide instant offense from the bench, and he did an outstanding job filling that role. If one has quibbles with his season, as I did on many occassions, it's over things that will never really be fixed. Mason is going to shoot some bad shots, and he's never going to be a great passer or a great driver. It would be nice if he developed those parts of his game, but I don't see it happening at this stage.
Still, it's probably time Mason moved on to greener pastures. The Wizards just don't have the money or the space on the roster to pay him, not when Nick Young is expected to take another step forward. There's also no way Mason can shoot as well ase did this year, so for him, it's optimal to test the free agent market. I look for him to go somewhere and disappoint now that he's no longer in the Princeton offense, because he's a combo guard and all combo guards that don't pass well find a home in the Princeton offense. He'll probably be relied on to be a backup point guard, and in a more traditional setting, I don't see that going too well.
Either way, it was a pleasure to have Mason on the team this year. He was one of the true surprises, and one of the many reasons why this season went as well as it did. I'll always wish him luck no matter where he goes.
JakeTheSnake: I can't help but go back to September when we heard that Roger turned down a 3 year deal with the Spurs to sign a one year deal with the Wizards, in the hopes that he would get a better contract this off-season. I think we were all pretty stunned that Roger would make such a move especially considering that he'd never really been much more than a guy who stood around the 3 point line and shot it when he was open and even when he was open he wasn't all that good at getting it in the hoop (33% from the field, 32.4% from three)
Needless to say, he made us all look like a bunch of idiots. Roger is going to make himself a good bit of change this season because he got better in every facet of the game this season. His defense improved, his ballhandling got good enough to where he could do some other things with the ball besides just hoisting treys, although that's always going to be his bread and butter. Other than some spotty shot selection from time to time, Roger filled his increased role on the team very well.
If the circumstances were different, I'd love to have him back, but Antawn and Gilbert are bigger priorities and Nick needs more PT. But Roger is going to be fine. His gamble paid off and he's going to get the money he was looking for. My bet is that he ends up where we thought he would go originally in San Antonio, where he'll become a younger, cheaper Michael Finley.
Truthaboutit: Roger Mason Junior.....DC's own ....the Potomac Rainmaker. Mason Junior was the recipient of this year's Pleasant Surprise Award. Ok, I made that up.....but the fact is that Roger Mason had a career year, averaging 9.1 ppg and almost 40% (39.8) from 3-point land. Oh yea, his PER and Usage-Rate bested that of both DeShawn Stevenson and Antonio Daniels. Mase-ON was truly an invaluable offensive spark off the bench as the Wizards dealt with an array of injuries in 07-08. Not only that, but in the nine games he was asked to start (five of which came in late December), Mason averaged 17.4 ppg, 3.4 ast, 52.6% fg, and 43.1% 3p.
But alas, it's the opinion of most that this four-year, three-team NBA journeyman (with stops in Greece and Israel in between NBA stints) will continue his travels elsewhere. Does it have to be this way for a hometown guy who seemingly wants to play in DC and for the Wizards.....especially considering that he turned down a 3-year $3 million contract from the world champion (soon to be former) San Antonio Spurs to sign with the Wizards for one year and $895,341 this past season? Or, did Roger have that much confidence in his game that he figured he would get more run with the Wiz, and thus be able to parlay that into a larger contract?
Whatever the case, people noticed and Roger will get paid. However, Mason's NBA future (and he does have an NBA future) is in limbo until a couple of questions are answered:
- What is the market for an NBA journeyman who can shoot? It seems that a team in rebuilding mode would rather opt to fill a roster spot with a draft pick, although Mason will just be 27 in September. But there is probably a contender out there who will throw at least half the MLE at Roger.
- If the Wizards have the money to meet Mason's market value, does he even fit into the team's future plans? Many are ready to anoint Nick Young as the backup 2-guard, and assuming health, Antonio Daniels will be backing up Gilbert at the point. Would I like Roger Mason as a 5th guard.....a guy who can drain jumpers off the bench? Sure. Will the Wizards be justified in paying someone in that position as much as Mason's market is projected to be? Hmmm......Good luck Ernie!
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