Season in Review: Roger Mason
After the dust started to settle in early August, Dell Demps looked up and down his roster and saw a bunch of fresh faced youngsters, but no seasoned veterans on a team that was full of them the previous year. With Jason Smith, 27, and Brian Roberts, 28, slated to be the oldest players on the roster, Dell Demps signed Roger Mason to a one year deal on August 3rd. At the age of 32, Mason was the most experienced pro by far, leading the team both in regular season games played and playoff games. The thought was that he would be a 4th or 5th guard, providing leadership to the young squad, but that drastically changed when the team announced that Eric Gordon would miss the first 6-8 weeks of the season. He was thrust into a more prominent role, and had some nice moments for the term. Here’s a look back at Money Mase’s 2012-13 season.
Three’s From the Wing
For most perimeter players, the corner three is the best shot they can take, but not Roger Mason. He was only 34% from the corner, but he was nearly 51% from the wing, with 67% of his made three’s coming from the right or left wing. The majority of these made three’s came off of spot-up opportunities, where Mason shot 47% from deep. Most of the others came in transition, where he was an even more blistering 52% from deep. Mason feels extremely comfortable on those wings, and when he is on the court, the opposition has to make sure they keep a guy close to Mason or he will burn them.
Playing Well with Austin
It is no secret that Austin Rivers struggled this season, but when he did play well, Roger Mason was usually on the court. In fact, every 2, 3, and 4 man combination Austin played with was outscored this season, save for two. The first was a four-man combination of Vasquez, Rivers, Aminu and Davis that outscored their opponents by 1.0 points per 100 possessions. The other was the two-man combination of Rivers and Mason, which played over 229 minutes together, and outscored their opponents by 8.7 points per 100 possessions. For comparison sake, Rivers and Vasquez was -4.5, Rivers and Roberts was -9.4, and Rivers and Henry was -17.2. Mason’s ability to spot up and space the floor really fit well with Austin’s ability to drive and kick. Combine that with his willingness to help mentor Rivers throughout the season, and Mason was a huge help to the Pelicans young rookie, both on and off the court.
Mid-Range Jumper and Free Throw Shooting
Roger Mason is known as a three-point shooter, but he is also incredibly effective from mid-range and he is one of the best free throw shooters in the NBA. From 16-24 feet, Mason was an above average shooter from all five mid-range spots, shooting 53% overall. The majority of the shots on the left hand side of the court came off of screens or dribble handoffs, where Mason appeared to feel very comfortable coming squaring his shoulders and firing from that side of the court. At the free throw line, shot 90.7% this season and was often on the court late in games when the team was icing one of their rare victories. As the team gets better, having an elite free throw shooter to close out games will become invaluable.
Pick and Roll Ballhandler
Before Brian Roberts turned his game around and became a quality backup point guard, there were times when Roger Mason was the primary ballhandler in the second unit. Those possessions were brutal to watch. In those possessions, he averaged just .68 points per possession per Synergy Sports and turned the ball over 24.4% of the time. Basically, if you put Mason in the pick and roll 12 times, he is going to turn it over 3 times and go 3-9 in the other possessions. Saying that this is not his strong point would be an understatement.
The defense this season was brutal and Mason didn’t do much to improve it when he was on the floor. He often played too far off his man when his guy didn’t have the ball, something Mason can not afford to do because he doesn’t have the length and athleticism to get back and contest. His man averaged 1.14 points per possession in spot-up opportunities and shot 44% from deep. Both of those numbers are amongst the worst for perimeter players in the NBA. Conversely, he was a solid defender in isolation where he could lock onto his guy, but when you ask him to help others and then get out and contest, he will suffer.
Scoring in the Paint
This isn’t a surprise to anybody who watched Roger Mason this season. He is a very good shooter with limited athleticism and good defensive teams will force guys like this off the line and make him attack the rim. When Mason did get to the basket, he had a hard time finishing, shooting just 40% from 10 feet and in. Luckily, Roger Mason is a veteran and he knows his game, as evidenced by the fact that he took more shots from 16-24 feet than he did from 15 feet and in, and took three times more three-pointers than he did from that area as well.
Roger Mason was asked to come in to be an example in the locker room and a long distance threat on the court. He did both and more than earned his veteran minimum contract. In face, Mason had his best offensive season since his 2008-09 season with the Spurs. He was very efficient from mid-range and deep, and he was a guy you could have on the court late in games because of his free throw shooting. His off the ball defense is not what Monty would ideally want from a wing player, but his ability to space the floor on offense really opens up the paint for guys like Anthony Davis and Austin Rivers. Overall, he was a threat when he was on the court that the team sorely needed because of the lack of shooting other than Ryan Anderson and a guy they should consider bringing back next year.
Roger Mason is an unrestricted free agent this summer and I am sure the Pelicans will allow him to go out and see if any title contenders have interest in his services. Mason’s shooting fell off a bit the last three years, and that is likely the reason why he was not brought in by a contending team this past season, but after his second best season from three in his career, I expect him to receive offers from contending teams this summer. He likely won’t get more than the league minimum moving forward, but you would have to believe that if he was forced to choose between the rebuilding Pelicans and a title contender, he would go with the latter at this point in his career. If the offers aren’t out there, however, I expect the Pelicans to bring him back on a minimum contract and for Mason to continue to provide leadership and an offensive punch off the bench.