News out of the Associated Press from ESPN.com is that Desmond Mason is going to be the 14th man on the Kings roster:
Mason took a physical after meeting with Kings officials in Sacramento on Wednesday, a person with knowledge of the meeting told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because a deal had not been signed.
I’m all for this signing because I’ve always been a fan of Desmond Mason. He’s never been a very skilled basketball player. He doesn’t take many outside jumpers and has only made 66 three-pointers in his career at a 26% clip.
But his defense has often been solid and his athleticism is still something to be marveled at.
The Kings won’t get the dunk champion version of Mason by any means but he can still occasionally spring up out of nowhere and put the ball down on a player’s head.
We have some conflicting reports. Not about the signing but about the prospective usefullness of Mason on this team.
First, I asked Royce from Daily Thunder for his thoughts on what Mason can bring to a team at this stage in his career. Here’s what he said:
Dez is a bulldog. Defense isn’t just his calling card, but tough defense. He wants to play physical, in-your-face defense and make going against him hell. Last year with OKC he changed the whole team’s defensive mentality when he instituted a “no fly zone” rule. Basically, if you came near the rim your shot was getting blocked or you were getting fouled. He’s a great leader and a great teammate. But his offense, oh his offense. He’s got a herky-jerky jumpshot that’s basically just a prayer every time it goes up. The only offensive move he has that’s worth a darn is his little back-to-the-basket baby hook, but he’s got to have a mismatch to pull that off. Oh and dunks. He can definitely dunk. But he’s got value because of his hard-nosed defense and leadership. Just don’t expect much more than that.
Sounds good, right? Well, I was reminded of this piece from Basketball-Reference on StR’s comments section by lifestyleforthesellout, which basically states that Mason has been one of the worst players in the league.
In other words, if there’s a statistical category out there (at least in terms of the box score), odds are that it showed Desmond Mason to be a really bad player last season. Not just mediocre, not just below-average, but legitimately terrible. Now, you might be making excuses for Desmond, saying that he was hurt a lot last year, and had to be shut down in January because of a knee injury, so maybe it’s not a fair 39-game sample upon which to judge Mason.
OK, I’ll grant that. So how about the 243 games he’s played since 2005-06 (which theoretically should have included some prime seasons)? Would that be a large enough sample? How was he over that span?
In the history of basketball, there have been some statistical anamolies that we simply can’t account for how effective they are on the court. Shane Battier is one of them. Unfortunately, the Kings aren’t signing Shane Battier to a one-year, minimum deal.
Overall, he adds the tough, physical play that the Kings brass was clamoring for when the draft happened. I think his defense can be invaluable if Donte Greene or Omri Casspi can’t step in and stop their man from blowing by them (more of a problem with DG than Casspi).
Let’s just hope he doesn’t cross over to the offensive side of the court when he’s on the floor.