A year ago, the Spurs front office looked like geniuses when they acquired the services of then free-agent Roger Mason Jr. With injuries to key players (Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker) at the time, he emerged as one of the best offseason pickups in 2008.
In his first year as a Spur, he went on to provide good production at the two guard spot as he averaged 11.8 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists in 82 regular season games at 30.4 minutes of playing time. He also shot the ball well, connecting 42.5 percent from the field, 42.1 percent behind the arc and 89 percent from the foul line.
He even got the moniker “Big Shot Rog” because of his penchant for hitting game winners during the regular season. Most notably against the LA Clippers, Phoenix Suns and the LA Lakers.
However, once the post season started against the Mavericks, his numbers went down to 6.6 points, 1.8 assists and 1.6 rebounds in five games as the Spurs were bounced out in the first round of the playoffs in 2009.
At the start of this season, with the Spurs key players back healthy, and with the offseason acquisitions of Richard Jefferson and Antonio McDyess, things looked good for the Spurs. It could also mean a better year for Mason, because according to Coach Popovich most Spur plays better during their second year.
Not for Mason, the lack of minutes has limited his production and has affected his confidence. In 79 games this season, his averages are 6.3 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.7 assists in 19.2 minutes action. His shooting percentages also went down, 38.9% from the field, 33.3% from the 3-point area and 79.4% from the free throw line.
He also demanded to be traded at the trade deadline because he felt that the lack of playing time has affected his performance. The Spurs tried to grant his wish but to no avail. He will remain a Spur at least for the remainder of the season.
As the Spurs meet the Mavericks once again in a first round playoff series, Roger Mason Jr. has fallen out of the rotation. So far, he is scoreless in four playoffs games against the Mavs and he hasn’t been given much time to prove his worth. He is only averaging 5.3 minutes per game including a 1-minute outing in game three and did not play in game four.
But the fact remains, Manu is playing well right now, George Hill has been solid and is recovering nicely from an injury and Tony Parker has embraced his off the bench role and the Spurs are playing good basketball with Mason virtually not a part of it.
The only way for Mason to earn more minutes is to make his shots when given the chance and maybe make a hustle play or two when he is on the floor. He has to make the Spurs realize that he really wants to help the team win.
The problem for Mason? Back in March he asked for more minutes and didn’t take advantage of it when given the chance. Now in April, as the Spurs are trying to get past an old foe to further advance into the playoffs he might not get another chance.
What are your thought? Does Mason deserve more minutes in the playoffs? Where should his minutes come from? Or is he better off warming on the Spurs’ bench? Tell us what you think.