How Roddy Buckets went from 40 points a night to NBA castoff
In the past four NBA seasons, there have been 208 occasions on which a player has scored 40 or more points - regular season and playoffs combined. Fifty-seven players have combined for those 208 outubrsts, including such unlikely names such as Luis Scola, C.J. Watson and C.J. Miles.
Most of the players are stars, or were stars at the time. Many still are. But some of those players have fallen from this intermittent grace so badly that they now only earn the minimum salary.
Despite their proven potency, Nick Young, Al Harrington, Anthony Morrow, Aarob Brooks and Michael Beasley are now earning as little as a player can - in the case of Beasley, not one dollar of this minimum is even guaranteed. This was agreed to less than three calendar years from his 42-point game, quite the backwards progression.
Four others, however, haven't even got that much to show. Four players who scored 40 or more points in an NBA game over the past four years aren't in the NBA any more.
Two are injury related - Brandon Roy and Gilbert Arenas. Roy has retired, twice, due to his debilitating knee troubles, while Arenas is a mere fraction of the player he was. He doesn't need to officially retire from the NBA - he simply wasn't good enough to stay in it any more, and fell out of it before the age of 30.
One is attitude related. Stephen Jackson had himself a fine spot as a role player on a team that came within one fluke occurrence of winning the NBA championship, but he wanted more and ruined it all. He is now out of the league - at the age of 35, with steady years of several decline behind him, and possibly his strongest bridge burned, Jackson will be very lucky to make it back.
The fourth absentee is a real enigma - Rodrigue Beaubois.
On a memorable night in late March of his rookie season, Beaubois scored 40 points over the course of 30 minutes in a blowout win over Golden State, hitting 15 of 22 shots and 9 of 11 three pointers a mere couple of weeks after a two 20+ point outings suggested what was possible. An appropriate nickname, 'Roddy Buckets', was quickly formed and stuck. From the depths of the first round, Dallas seemed as though they had found that rarest of beast, a scoring talent so prodigious that he could genuinely change the outcome of a game.
Since then, nothing. Zilch. Nada. As bright as Beaubois's candle burned that month, it never truly burned again. Beaubois has been with the Mavericks in the three years hence, and yet, rather than assume a greater role (particularly with the departures of the comparable Jason Terry and J.J. Barea), Beaubois instead initially underwhelmed in a slightly increased role before falling out of the rotation altogether. Last year, Beaubois appeared in only 45 games, averaged only 12 minutes per contest, shot only 37% from floor, and averaged only 4 points.
The Heat were said to be interested in Beaubois for training camp this season, but the signing was stymied by a wrist injury. Despite the drop-off, he still yields NBA attention, but the fact remains that so soon after scoring 40 points per game and being the future, Beaubois is now out of the league.
Players generally don't lose their skills that quickly at that age unless a serious injury or an unexpected mishap accelerates it. Beaubois has twice had foot surgery, the impact of which we can only assume to have been significant. That said, you don't go from being a 50-40-80 guard at 21-years-old with a PER of 18.5 to a 25-year-old with a PER of 10.6 riding the bench behind a 37 year old Mike James without losing your way somewhere.
The departures of Terry and Barea may not have been as beneficial to Beaubois as one would expect. Beaubois often paired with them in his early days, and while this made for a very small backcourt, it also made for a quick one that allowed Beaubois to not have to worry about point guard duties and just cut loose offensively. Given the freedom to slash, cut and shoot without being a defensively focused, Beaubois thrived.
However, upon Barea's departure, Beaubois had to assume more of a point guard role. Barea has never been the purest of point guards but he's always been a better one than Beaubois, whose decent assist/turnover ratio belies his ineffectiveness in the role. And whilst Jason Terry in his Dallas days was no more of a point guard than Roddy, Terry could pair with Jason Kidd on account of his quality jumpshot.
But Beaubois, for whatever reason, lost his shot. This, combined with Kidd's inability to penetrate, made for an easy enough player to defend. Once paired with Kidd, a defense could nullify Beaubois with a quicker defender he couldn't shoot over, and if paired with anyone else, Beaubois had to play the point to create for himself and everyone. And he couldn't do it.
In short, Beaubois went from a dynamic penetrator, isolator, open-court finisher and eclectic off-the-ball scorer, to makeshift point guard who couldn't get to the rim like he once could, struggled from outside, had no mid-range game, who suffered from injuries, lost his confidence, and with it all his effectiveness. The cult of Buckets didn't last long.
There is plenty of hope for Beaubois still. He needs a clean bill of health, for one, and to work with a shooting coach to restore the jumper whose absence has crippled his scoring effectiveness. He then needs to find the confidence in his game, and the right situation in which to maximize it. Miami could be it, but so could Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, Golden State and others.
Wherever he winds up, it won't be a moment too soon. The NBA misses Roddy Buckets.