Back in October, we posted about the arrival of American O.J. Mayo to the ABL. Following a few different international stops in recent years, Mayo signed a deal with the Fubon Braves for the 2018-19 season. And it’s fair to say that he’s one of the more prominent players to have migrated to the ABL.
While Mayo’s multi-year career in the NBA was not what many hoped it would be, he was then and remains now a household name among basketball fans. As a prospect in the American high school ranks, Mayo was a well-known player tabbed with star potential. In the NBA Draft, as was noted in our aforementioned post, he was the third overall pick. Thereafter, at times, he looked like the dynamic, athletic scorer he was always expected to be. But he never quite reached his potential on a consistent basis, and he ultimately sought better fortune outside of the NBA (following a league ban, we should note).
So far with the Fubon Braves though, Mayo has been able to demonstrate what made him such a highly touted prospect. He’s been among the league leaders in scoring, and has been the most prolific three-point shooter by a wide margin to date. He’s also received positive feedback from his coaches in Taipei, who have noted that he “is open to comments and suggestions” to a degree some other “star imports” might not be.
This has all been good for the ABL and for Mayo personally. But the American’s starring role to this point also raises the question of whether, at age 32, he’s reached a point at which he might appeal once more to an NBA organization. To be perfectly clear, this is not a report that such a development is imminent. But with Mayo having played so well, and with the NBA season approaching the point at which teams look for any little way to improve their rosters for the home stretch, we’re taking a look at some American contenders, based on the odds, that could conceivably have interest in the Braves gaurd.
In doing so, we’ll turn specifically to some of the U.S.-based bookie odds, which one would assume have the most accurate perspective on the NBA. These bookies are actually quite new given that legal sports betting is something of a novel phenomenon in the United States. But by now NBA betting is thoroughly covered online, and thus we can get a numbers-based look at the teams set up as the bookies’ true favorites for deep playoff contention. Among them, these are some teams that stand out as potential (again, not reported) destinations for Mayo.
Los Angeles Clippers
Right now, the NBA bookies like the Clippers essentially as co-favorites to win the 2020 championship (at +300). While the Clippers look the part of a well-rounded team and a potential juggernaut, however – led by internationally renowned stars like Kawhi Leonard and Paul George – they actually are somewhat lacking in three-point shooting. NBA shooting stats show that the Clippers are in the bottom half of the league in three pointers made, which indicates that Mayo could fill a need as a shooter off the bench.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are the other co-favorites from a betting perspective, and actually make fewer threes than the Clippers. This could in theory make them another interesting destination for Mayo, though looking beyond pure shooting numbers he would be somewhat more redundant with the Lakers than the Clippers. Veteran players like Avery Bradley and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope play the shooting guard position well enough for the Lakers, whereas the Clippers do actually have a lack of depth at the position.
Maybe more than any other contending team, the Philadelphia 76ers make sense as one that could take a chance on O.J. Mayo. The NBA bookies like the Sixers as the fourth most likely team to win the title (the Milwaukee Bucks are third, but have no need of a player like Mayo), though it’s widely known that Philadelphia lacks shooting, or really any perimeter scoring. NBA fans and analysts alike expect the Sixers to go looking for shooting help at the league’s trade deadline, but Mayo could be an outside-the-box solution.
There are some other, second-tier contenders that come to mind as well. The Denver Nuggets have yet to firmly figure out their shooting guard rotation, and while Mayo wouldn’t start there, he could factor in; the Dallas Mavericks could be described similarly. And while the Houston Rockets don’t need shooting specifically, they’ve shown an inclination to stock up on as much scoring talent as they can find, and so might be interested in giving Mayo a look.
Ultimately, a midseason move to the NBA is still very unlikely for Mayo. But when American players who may still be good enough for the NBA come to a league like the ABL, there’s always that remote chance. And the teams listed above, whom the bookies see as likely contenders, might do well to scout the Fubon Braves star.