Is Rodrigue Beaubois a legit fantasy breakout candidate, or is he nothing more than a trendy sleeper pick?
When guard Jason Terry missed a few games for the Dallas Mavericks in March, rookie guard Rodrigue Beaubois got a little extra playing time and made some fantasy noise by scoring in the teens in seven straight games. Then he made a lot more people pay attention by dropping 40 points, eight boards, three dimes and three blocks on the sprinting the Golden State Warriors on March 27. But once Terry was back from his broken nose, Beaubois had a tough time maintaining regular minutes and relevant production.
Terry and Beaubois have more in common than simply chipping away at each other's minutes. They're both about 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, lightning quick and can score better than they can pass. That means each has the game of a ball-handling shooting guard and the body of a smallish point guard. In turn, that puts both in a tough spot in today's NBA. They can ball at the 2 on offense, but small guards often have difficulty defending the 2. And while they can "handle" the point, it doesn't mean they have the necessary feel and understanding of the game to actually run an offense and be a full-time point guard.
Terry has managed to overcome those issues and have a nice fantasy career, scoring in the upper teens with quality dimes, steals and 3-pointers. Can the much younger Beaubois follow in Terry's shoes and produce similar numbers this season? We can see the similarities between the two, but there are some important differences, which might give Beaubois an advantage when battling for playing time in the crowded Mavs backcourt. First, he's already a terrific shooter. Even though he played limited minutes as a rookie, he shot 52 percent from the field and 41 percent from beyond the 3-point arc. Despite being only 6-foot-2, he has an amazing 39-inch vertical leap and a 6-foot-10 wingspan. In practical terms, that means he plays a lot bigger than 6-foot-2 and has the athleticism to handle much bigger shooting guards on defense.
While most people didn't know who Beaubois was until he cranked out those stats in March, anyone who actually saw him on the hardwood before or during his rookie campaign saw a physical freak and wondered how long it would be before he started carving out enough minutes to really break out. If Beaubois was on a team with a lean roster and was expected to get 35 minutes a night, he'd be on everyone's short list of breakout candidates this season. The skill is there. Unfortunately, the Mavs have a deep backcourt with Jason Kidd, Jose Juan Barea, Terry, Caron Butler, Dominique Jones and DeShawn Stevenson all capable of taking minutes away from Beaubois. He's also still recovering from offseason foot surgery and had his sore appendage in a walking boot this week, so a slow start to the season is practically guaranteed.
Beaubois makes for an ideal flier if you can stash him on your bench for a month or two, because there's a real chance he can carve out starting minutes and produce Terry-like numbers. His improvement will be a key to the Mavs' success this season, so he should be given every opportunity to break out. My gut feeling is that Beaubois' play will force coach Rick Carlisle to give him starter's minutes by January. If that happens, he could well average 16 points, three assists, two treys and 1.5 steals with good percentages. And the potential for much bigger production is there if he gets comfortable quickly or injured teammates open up more playing time.
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.