Is Rodrigue Beaubois best shot blocker?
January, 28, 2012
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com
DALLAS -- How is it that the shortest guy on the team is the Dallas Mavericks' best shot blocker?
It starts with the 6-foot-2 (and that might be a stretch) Rodrigue Beaubois' insanely long arms. He is making mid-air swats on opponents attempting to drive, as he did Friday night in flicking away Devin Harris' baseline penetration. But he's also getting more than his share of blocks on perimeter jumpers.
That's all about good defensive positioning and timing. Last week at Utah, Beaubois got his right arm fully extended and blocked 6-foot-8 forward Paul Millsap's jumper at the point of release. On Friday against the Jazz, Beaubois did the same to guard Earl Watson. Beaubois then tapped the ball forward to Jason Terry, who flew in for an uncontested layup.
That block was just one of a career-high four on the night for the third-year guard, who has 11 blocks in the last five games and 15 on the season. He ranks second on the team in total blocks, just three fewer than 7-foot starting center Brendan Haywood and two more than Beaubois' buddy, 6-foot-11 backup center Ian Mahinmi. Beaubois, though, has logged 156 fewer minutes than Haywood and 126 fewer than Mahinmi.
"God gave me long arms and I'm just trying to use it," Beaubois said. "Sometimes I am going to block shots, sometimes I don't. But when I can I am going to do my best to block shots."
At this rate, Beaubois' .83 blocks-per-game average will soon exceed Haywood's team-best .90 average. Beaubois also has 20 steals on the season. That ranks fifth on the team in total steals, but first in steals per minute played.
As equally impressive is that Beaubois is creating turnovers without fouling. This has been a major issue for him over his first two seasons and particularly last season after he finally returned from the broken left foot. It wasn't surprising for Beaubois to pick up two quick fouls and find himself back on the bench.
He still has a fairly high number of fouls (29) for his minutes played, but he hasn't had more than three in a game since the second game of the season, and he hasn't been nailed by cheap, quick fouls in succession that force him to sit.
"My first year I was fouling a lot and it's something that the coaches tried to talk to me about, something I needed to get better at," Beaubois said. "I'm just trying to play defense without fouling, using my length without touching the guy too much and just trying to get better with it."