This is the slow time in the NBA off-season, but that doesn’t mean we can’t start looking ahead to the 2010-11 season and which players might surprise us. The Slept-on Files will feature some of the players you might have overlooked or written off — and give you reasons why you shouldn’t.
Roger Mason’s File — Career numbers: 6 seasons, 19.2 MPG, 40.9 FG%, 38.1 3PT%, 87.1 FT%, 1.8 RPG, 1.5 APG 7.2 PPG; 2009-10 season: 19.2 MPG, 38.9 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 79.4 FT%, 2.1 RPG, 1.7 APG, 6.3 PPG
Why he’s being slept on: Looking at his career numbers, there isn’t a lot there that will overwhelm you. The New York Knicks, with whom he signed this summer, will also be his fifth team in seven seasons and his first job will be finding a way to fit in. But Mason is a role player, fitting best with the Spurs two seasons ago. He can be a deadly spot up 3-point shooter and while his game isn’t flashy, it’s effective. Usually. Unfortunately for him, as George Hill leaped up from under the radar, his own game began slipping under it.
Why he shouldn’t be slept-on: Sometimes, all a player needs is an opportunity. In the NBA, opportunity and change of location are often interchangeable. While Mason’s game became stagnant with the Spurs, a fresh start with the Knicks is a perfect way for him to revitalize his career. Not only is Mason a key role player, he is a fit for coach Mike D’Antoni’s system and will find himself the beneficiary of a lot of those corner 3-pointers he likes so much.
After downing the Phoenix Suns on a corner, buzzer-beating three on Christmas day in 2008, Amar’e Stoudemire is familiar with Mason’s game and will relish having great shooters around him again. Looking at Mason’s file shows that when he gets the time, his production increases. Before Hil’s accelerated development in San Antonio, Mason had the strongest year of his NBA career, playing 30 minutes per game and putting in 11.8 points per contest while shooting 42% from beyond the arc.
He is also a great guy to have in your locker room. When your front office is trying to make deals with the devil and bring Isiah Thomas back into the mix, it’s unclear how focused they are on piecing together a team that will be cohesive off of the court as well as on. With trades and free agent pick ups bringing in Amar’e Stoudemire, Kelenna Azubuike, Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf and Raymond Felton, Mason helps smooth out the high turnover. He’s a great veteran to have in your locker room and one of the true hard workers in the league, regularly coming in during evening hours to get extra shots up and work on his game.
While the Knicks wanted to make a splash this offseason, they wound up making a few ripples instead. Tasked with rebuilding a team, it can be better to bring in pieces that won’t rock the boat, but will help keep you afloat. And that’s Roger Mason in a nutshell: he may not be a team-changer, but he can be a game-changer.