- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS - A few flashes of potential and six quick fouls.
That sums up Dallas Mavericks first-round pick Rodrigue Beaubois' performance during Thursday night's 113-88 preseason win over the Detroit Pistons.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, who wanted to challenge Beaubois after a poor performance in the previous game, started the 21-year-old against the Pistons. Beaubois responded with five quick points and a beautiful bounce pass to Dirk Nowitzki for a dunk on a perfectly executed pick-and-roll.
But Beaubois picked up three fouls in the first six minutes, which earned him a seat on the bench until late in the third quarter. Beaubois' next stint on the floor was even shorter. He fouled out early in the fourth quarter after playing less than 10 minutes.
As Carlisle keeps reiterating, the learning process is only beginning for the athletic phenom from the French island of Guadeloupe.
"We've got to be mindful of the fact that he's coming from a completely different culture, a completely different style of play and there's going to be an adjustment on one hand," Carlisle said. "On the other hand, it's four games and he's got to start adjusting to the things that go on in this league.
"This is work. He's got tools and he's got some things that will allow him to help our team. The only way to learn in this league is to get out there and get thrown to the wolves. I know he can do better."
The Mavs believe that the 6-foot-2, 182-pound Beaubois, the 25th overall pick in the draft, has the ability to contribute as a rookie. In pre-draft quickness drills, he tested as well as Devin Harris. He has a 39-inch vertical leap and a 6-10 wingspan. He has a soft shooting touch with range that extends well beyond the 3-point arc.
Beaubois is obviously blessed with physical gifts. But the question is how quickly can he adapt his game to the NBA after playing in a lower-level European league in which the officials often swallowed their whistles.
"I'm learning right now," Beaubois said. "I'm learning a lot. I'm not in France anymore, so I have to adjust myself."
The Mavericks aren't discouraged by what they've seen from Beaubois during the preseason. He had a spectacular performance in the win over the Washington Wizards, when he had 14 points, three assists and three steals.
Carlisle warned then that the challenge would be for Beaubois to build on that performance. He failed in that regard, following up with an awful outing in a win over the Grizzlies. He had no points and three turnovers in nine minutes that night, but what bothered Carlisle most was that Beaubois lost energy when things didn't go well.
Energy wasn't an issue for Beaubois against the Pistons. He just couldn't seem to play more than 90 seconds without getting called for a foul, something that was a problem for him during his summer league stint.
"This is part of growing up in this league," Carlisle said. "You're not playing in Guadeloupe or Nice or Monaco. You're playing in Washington and Houston. You're playing in real NBA cities against guys who are trying to kick your [rear] every night. The level of awareness as well as the level of play, it's going to keep increasing as he gets more experience."
Beaubois is fortunate to play on a team with two point guards willing to serve as mentors, one of whom is a surefire Hall of Famer.
Jason Kidd considers it his job to keep Beaubois' confidence up as he learns on the job. Kidd also supplements the constant instruction Beaubois gets from the coaches with frequent on-court tutorials about the finer points of playing point guard in the NBA, whether Beaubois asks a question or not.
Kidd sees the potential that caused the Mavs' brass to hold their breath and hope that Beaubois would be available late in the first round.
"He is talented," Kidd said. "He's going to help us win some games."
How quickly that happens depends on the learning curve of a kid adapting to a new culture and completely different level of competition.
Tim MacMahon covers the Dallas Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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