[NOTE: Truth About It.net 2011-12 Player Reviews continue, where we take a look at the past, present and future of those players who have touched the Wizards franchise during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. Now, we review the former Wizard and Washington, D.C. native who returned home... That's right... Roger Mason Jr. TAI's Rashad Mobley and Kyle Weidie assess Roger's 52-game stint in D.C. -Kyle W.]
Player Review Index: Morris Almond (we’d like to) | Andray Blatche | Trevor Booker | Brian Cook (maybe) | Jordan Crawford | Maurice Evans | Rashard Lewis | Shelvin Mack | Cartier Martin | Roger Mason Jr. | JaVale McGee | Nenê | Kevin Seraphin (coming soon) | Chris Singleton | James Singleton | Ronny Turiaf (meh) | Edwin Ubiles (we’ll see) | Jan Vesely | John Wall | Nick Young
Most NBA players spent the summer and fall months staying in shape, pinching pennies and waiting for the end of the seemingly endless lockout. And while Roger Mason faced those exact challenges, even as the vice president of the National Basketball Player’s Association (NBPA), he was also channeling his inner Beastie Boy in the negotiation room by fighting NBA owners for the players’ right to party, earn a bigger piece of the financial pie and ultimately return to the court.
Of course, Mason had a misstep along the way with the infamous “Looking like a season, how u?” tweet from his @MoneyMase account (which he claimed was momentarily hacked), but, eventually, the lockout came to an end. Shortly thereafter, Mason shunned the Boston Celtics and signed with the Washington Wizards. At the time of the signing, Nick Young was in the midst of a holdout, and it seemed like Mason was brought in as insurance. But Mason was pretty clear on what his role with the Wizards was going to be:
“My role is just to share some of the knowledge that I’ve learned,” said Mason. ”Learning from guys like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, you know, pros … being with Amar’e Stoudemire. Those are things that I can bring to Andray Blatche, to let him know how Tim Duncan prepares for games. To let John Wall know how Tony Parker prepares for games. They won championships. So my role now is to come here and teach these guys what champions do.”
Unfortunately, the Wizards weren’t just bad—they were historically bad. And Mason’s 13.4 minutes a game, 39-percent shooting from the field and 38-percent mark from the 3-point line were not enough for him to have a consistent influence over Wall, Blatche and the rest of his youthful teammates. He was buried on the bench under Flip Saunders’ tenure, but when Randy Wittman was promoted as interim head coach, he got more opportunities to shine. There were a handful of games where Mason’s ability to hit timely 3-point shots influenced the final score of games.
Against the Los Angeles Lakers, Mason hit two 3-pointers at the start of the fourth quarter which gave the Wizards the lead, en route to an unexpected victory. When the Wizards took on the New Orleans Hornets with a depleted roster (due to these two trades), Mason responded with his biggest game of the year by scoring 19 points (he shot 4-of-6 from the 3-point line). Against the New Jersey Nets in March, Mason scored 11 fourth quarter points in a 108-89 blowout victory for the Wizards. Mason wasn’t the impact player he had been for the San Antonio Spurs in the 2008-09 season when he shot 42-percent from both the 3-point line and the field, but he certainly had his moments.
Mason’s season ended on April 15 when he had season-ending surgery to repair an avulsion fracture in his left index finger. The Wizards waived him shortly thereafter. He appeared in 52 of the Washington’s 66 games and averaged 5.5 points per contest.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
Mason now sits where he was when Ernie Grunfeld waived him on April 16: team-less. There were whispers that he would be picked up by a playoff team, but nothing panned out. Maybe post-season constructionists didn’t trust that the fracture in his finger would heal in time. Maybe his skills in the NBA are coming to the end of their tenure. Mason seems to be doing well for himself off the court, but does his basketball career have anything left in the tank?
When Mason donned a Wizards uniform and hit the hardwood this season, team 3-point percentages went up to 2.5-percent to 33.6. The Wizards also managed to get 2.6 more assists and 2.3 less turnovers per 48 minutes when Mason was on the floor. So there’s some of your veteran leadership in numbers. Defensively, Mason was a liability more than he wasn’t, and this is the biggest adversary to his chances. Although, one key number from his time with the Wizards reflects a positive influence: opponents scored 101.3 points per 48 minutes when Mason was on the bench; when he was on the floor, that number dropped to 94.2.
Over 52 games on the season, Mason shot a sub-par 39.9-percent from the field and 38.1-percent from 3-point land. But if you look the last 29 games he played, starting with a February 20 loss to the Suns when Mason started getting more consistent minutes, his shooting percentages jump to 43.1-percent from the field and 42.5-percent from 3-point territory. Averaging 4.4 attempts from deep during this time, that 3-point percentage would have put Roger in the NBA’s top five (amongst those who averaged more than four 3-point attempts per game)—right behind Steve Novak (5.2 3PA/G, 47.2%), Stephen Curry (4.7 3PA/G, 45.5%), Ray Allen (5.1 3PA/G, 45.3%), and Kyle Korver (4.2 3PA/G, 43.5%).
The D.C. native will turn 32 on September 10, but he clearly could provide a team with dependability, especially from behind the arc. After all, there’s always room for shooters.
[Source: NBA.com/Stats; Basketball-Reference.com]
—Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)
In final regular season interview, Andray Blatche made mention of how important this summer was to his to his future NBA career—and he was 100-percent right, given the number of underachieving years he has under his belt. This summer is just as important to Roger Mason, even though he has done nothing but overachieve in his nine NBA seasons.
Mason will turn 32 during this offseason, and for a player who relies on quickness and speed, that would give teams legitimate reason to pause before inking a deal with him. But Mason has was blessed with the skill of shooting with above accuracy, and in today’s NBA, that is highly coveted. The Miami Heat signed the oft-injured Mike Miller because of his long-distance shooting ability, and James Jones (who will turn 32 in October) always seems to have a spot on that roster for the same reason. If Mason can sufficiently recover from surgery (to his non-shooting hand), there will surely be a veteran team that will give him a look.
And there is always a chance that Ernie Grunfeld could decide that Roger Mason’s shooting ability, along with his intangibles, are enough for the Wizards to re-sign him for one more year—especially if they win the lottery or sign significant players via the draft or free agency. Mason was unable to influence players like McGee, Young and Blatche this season, but if he can positively influence a crop of younger Wizards, and earn enough trust from the next coach to gain more playing time, perhaps he can have a greater impact next time around.
—Rashad Mobley (@Rashad20)
The Basket That Didn’t Count
When was the last time the NBA tried erase the presence of a player who not only saw court time, but who also scored a basket? Roger knows.
It was the third game of the season, the last of 2011, a December 30 affair for the Wizards against the Bucks in Milwaukee. Check the play-by-play account on NBA.com; it will tell you that with about 3:20 left in the first quarter, Rashard Lewis scored a turnaround jump shot to bring Washington within 24-18.
But no such jump shot occurred.
Lewis was on the court at the time, and he even set the screen that freed the actual shooter, but he did not make that jumper. It was Roger Mason.
Mason was later declared ineligible and was asked to leave the bench during the next stoppage in play, and the Wizards were assessed a technical foul. Why? Evidently, the league office provided the wrong scorecard, one without list Mason. In turn, the Wizards PR representative traveling with the team failed to recognize that the scorecard only listed 14 out of 15 players on Washington’s roster. Flip Saunders, responsible for giving the game-night lineup a final approval with his signature, also failed to find meaning in empty line No. 15 (as seen below). And that was that.
Fitting that the highest paid Wizard, Rashard “$23,336 Per Basketball Minute” Lewis, was awarded a ‘free’ bucket … just because he happened to be the closest teammate to the ineligible jumper.
Don’t worry, such a moment doesn’t define Mason’s most recent tenure with the Wiz. Despite the broken finger, this scene, and the stats, prove that Roger’s season ended better than it began. It’s just that this was the most Wizards thing he did, or didn’t do.
-Kyle Weidie (@Truth_About_It)