Commentary

Summer has been learning experience

Mavericks finding out what they have in young guards Beaubois and Jones

Updated: July 19, 2010, 10:20 AM ET
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com

LAS VEGAS -- Two of three phases of the Summer of Roddy are in the books. Five rather nondescript summer league games by the Dallas Mavericks' point-guard-in-training wrapped up Sunday night. It followed an intensive, interactive June with coach Rick Carlisle and precedes a run next month with the French national team at the World Championships in Turkey.

Rodrigue Beaubois' time in the desert was a mixed bag. He certainly didn't blow anybody away, although at times it was evident that his silky jumper can be lethal (he bounced back Sunday after a scoreless game to hit 6 of 9 shots, 3 of 3 from beyond the arc for 15 points) and his athleticism electric.

It can't be said that he fully seized command of the team the way Washington's No. 1 pick, John Wall, most certainly led his troops. Prior to leaving for Vegas, coaches said getting Beaubois to exert himself as a floor leader was a top priority. Jeremy Lin and Dominique Jones, it could be argued, were the more dominant, take-charge personalities.

[+] EnlargeRorigue Beaubois
Jack Arent/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Mavs are being patient as guard Rodrigue Beaubois learns how to play the point.

An ankle injury required daily treatment and left Beaubois limping at times, but he said it didn't affect his play. Anyone associated with the team brushed it off, a clear dose of tough love for the lithe, 6-foot-2 French-speaking native of Guadeloupe who continues to adapt to the physical nature -- and toll -- of the NBA.

So how much more do the Mavs know about their young student than they did before arriving in the desert 10 days ago?

"We're seeing gradual progress with his development as a point guard. It's not going to happen overnight. We knew it wasn't," Carlisle said. "He's far more accomplished as a 2-guard playing with Jason Kidd than he is a point guard, but he's a damn good young point guard. So that's where it's at. He's improved his strength and work capacity 300 percent from a year ago and he's going to keep getting better."

The Mavs did leave Vegas raving about first-round draft pick Jones, a 6-foot-4 freight train who delivered strong drives and double-digit trips to the free throw line as advertised. It took him 31 seconds into Sunday's 85-54 win over Sacramento to get to the line.

But the shooting guard also raised eyebrows with better-than-expected playmaking ability. He led the summer squad in scoring (16.8) and assists (3.4), recording a game-high seven dishes to go with 17 points Sunday.

"The thing that surprised me is his ability to get the ball places and deliver it on time, on target to guys for shots, layups, dunks," Carlisle said. "He's really been good."

Jones, who by all accounts is humble, coachable and committed to work ethic, knows he must extend his shooting range to the NBA 3-point line and become more proficient from the perimeter. But he believes he can win a spot in the rotation next season by providing the Mavs with exactly what Dirk Nowitzki requested, short of LeBron James or Dwyane Wade coming to Dallas.

Jones was again relentless going to the basket Sunday. He earned six more free throws and finished the summer with a team-high 44 free throw attempts. He'll work to improve his 42.4 percent shooting from the field.

"I can knock down a shot. I've just got to get comfortable with knocking it down in game situations," Jones said. "I never really worked on catch-and-shoot in college, so that's something I've got to get used to. I feel the more I get used to making those and getting in the lane, the more I can help the team. I definitely see that there's a spot there that I can get in and contribute, and I'm trying to work hard and build my way up."

Beaubois knows he's in the rotation. The lingering question is, how many minutes will he earn? The answer will likely be determined by his progression at point guard. Several times last season, Beaubois seemed to be on the verge of cutting into J.J. Barea's minutes as Kidd's backup.

But as electric as Beaubois can be as a slasher and shooter as the 2-guard alongside Kidd -- and that's where he'll get the majority of his minutes next season -- as a point guard he had trouble establishing a tempo, too often playing too fast, committing turnovers and throwing the offense out of sync. Beaubois would then find himself out of the rotation.

In five summer league games, he still proved to be more of a scorer than a facilitator. He finished the slate with 15 assists, and in three games he finished with two or fewer assists. By comparison, Jones finished with 17 assists.

"I just started [at point guard], so there is a long way to go," Beaubois said. "I still need to work on it. I am going to look forward to training camp and we'll see. It's a process, and I still need to work on it."

Beaubois will now head home to Guadeloupe, where he will be accompanied by Carlisle at a youth basketball camp. As he continues to process the point guard position -- again, a position he's never played before -- the final phase of the Summer of Roddy will take off for Turkey and then land him in training camp in October.

"There's a lot to digest. As I've continued to say, there's going to be a learning curve," Carlisle said. "The good news is the curve gradually decreases. I just believe that it does. His inconsistencies and struggles in summer league are things I'm not going to overreact to.

"This whole thing has been a process: last year, this summer and next year. It's on track."

Jeff Caplan covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.

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