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O.J. Mayo signing displays Milwaukee Bucks' lack of direction

O.J. Mayo's new contract with the Bucks isn't particularly onerous financially, but it's hard to see how he moves the needle much for a franchise that badly needs to establish a clear direction.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Bucks had money to burn and used some of it to get O.J. Mayo on a three-year, $24 million contract, which should end Monta Ellis' tenure with the franchise. This isn't a terrible move, but it's not a particularly inspiring one either.

Mayo is turning 26 in November, so while he's certainly not going to fall off a cliff, he also doesn't have a ton of upside. There was some hope early last season that Mayo had finally turned the corner after a torrid shooting start in his first year in Dallas, but he eventually regressed to the mean and annoyed Rick Carlisle on his way out. Expecting him to be much more than an average starter at this point is probably expecting too much.

One big question: can Mayo's improved shooting carry over? Despite his poor finish, Mayo did finish with career-high marks in three-point percentage, true shooting percentage and effective field goal percentage. Mayo's shot distribution didn't dramatically change, but he did exhibit more discretion, posting a lower usage rate and taking significantly fewer shots than he did in Memphis. No longer forced to carry a bench, Mayo could fade into the background more, improving his efficiency.

Will that improved shooting carry over in Milwaukee, though? It's tough to say because we don't yet know Brandon Jennings' future, but being forced to carry too heavy an offensive load could cause Mayo's efficiency to regress. Mayo's shot distribution also got even worse, as he took more shots per game from 16-23 feet (three per game as opposed to 2.7 in 2011-12) and fewer from three-point range and the rim (6.6 combined in 2012-13; 6.9 in 2011-12), per Basketball Reference. If Mayo takes that many inefficient shots next season, it's reasonable to think his shooting percentages will come back down to earth.

And if you strip away the shooting, Mayo didn't really improve that much last year. He still posted a PER below the league average, and while his assists were up, so were his turnovers. He also still isn't a particularly good defender, both on the ball and on the weak side. The Mavericks, a team in a similar position to Milwaukee with their cap space and standing in their conference, showed no reported interest in bringing him back even as a Plan B to Dwight Howard. Two teams have now let Mayo go without shedding a tear that he left, and while Mayo has some value, that says something about his upside.

It's hard to say the signing is terrible, because Milwaukee has to fill out a roster, but it's definitely uninspiring. The financial implications aren't enormous and signing Mayo is certainly better than bringing back Monta Ellis, but there also isn't much upside to it. The Bucks have been snubbed by some free agents and have to spend to the salary floor, but I think they rushed to sign Mayo when they could have thought a little more carefully about putting together a long-term plan.


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