Synergy Sights: O.J. Mayo


Apr 10, 2013; Dallas, TX, USA; Dallas Mavericks shooting guard O.J. Mayo (32) waits for play to resume against the Phoenix Suns during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Suns defeated the Mavericks 102-91. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Note: This following breakdown on O.J. Mayo is a continuation of an on-going series where I use different clips to help breakdown Milwaukee’s newest additions. To get a better idea on how this series will be done, take a glance at the following piece that’s dedicated to Gary Neal. Without further ado,  let’s sit down and take a look at the newest player that will take the reigns as Milwaukee’s latest starting shooting guard. 

Offensive Pick and Roll

In the early stages of Dallas’s matchup against the Pacers, Mayo took the reigns of the team’s solid offense for at least one possession. While Mayo spends the majority of his offensive possessions spotting up around the perimeter or working around a simple screen, the following play showcases a different side of Dallas’s offensive arsenal with Brandon Wright (#34) and Vince Carter (#25) moving their way to the perimeter to set individual screens for the 6’4 guard. After moving around those two set screens, Mayo positions up from the right side as he nails the semi-open three point shot.

While the jury is still out on how Larry Drew will implement Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova, John Henson, etc into the pick and roll system, perhaps he could use the following play as a point of reference as he prepares for the upcoming season.

Sticking with the topic of how Larry Drew can implement the pick and roll offense in Milwaukee, let’s take a look at Mayo working around a Dirk Nowitzki screen as he drives to the paint. While Mayo isn’t the most physically gifted guards in the league, he’s still quick enough (unlike Gary Neal) to work around screens and penetrate to the rim. As we progress through this piece, you’ll be able to see that Mayo does have the ability to penetrate and kick it out to an open perimeter teammate which is a skill that could be very useful when he’s sharing the court with Ersan Ilyasova.


Matching up against fellow ’08 draft pick Eric Gordon, Mayo takes control of the Mavericks offense as he tries to get an advantage over the Pelicans guard. Despite his less than stellar open court speed, O.J. is able to maneuver his way around the 6’3 guard as he moves his way to the paint. With a flock of Pelican (then Hornets) defenders in front of him, our subject laces up a small floater that clanks off the front of the rim. As apparent from the shot chart below, Mayo is more efficient when he’s positioned away from the rim but he still has the ability to score near the rim.

Moving from inside the paint to the right corner, Mayo receives a quick pass from Chris Kaman as he posts up against the 6’6 Greivis Vasquez. Despite a significant height disadvantage, Mayo is still able to clear up some space from Vasquez as he steps back and hits a fadeaway jumper. Like previously stated, Mayo is better situated when he’s stationed from around the perimeter but does have the ability to  be a multifaceted option when it’s necessary.

Work as a Distributor

With Milwaukee’s current point guard situation looking incredibly hazy as we enter the upcoming season, the team may look at O.J. Mayo to help out the team’s offense in other ways than from the perimeter. In the following play, Mayo helps lead the Mavericks out on a quick fast break by gliding down the court and moving the ball around with Vince Carter.

There must be some strange imprint inside the brain of O.J. Mayo because he can make these high-pressure and solid passes while completely muffing when he’s trying to make simple passes from around the perimeter

In a Jekyll and Hyde type of effect, the above piece of film showcases Mayo’s struggles when he attempts to make simple passes. While a small amount of the plays in this compilation consist of defenders making solid attempts at the ball, the real majority of them are just mental errors by Mayo. Those mental lapses and bad decisions lead to Mayo ‘s steep 15.7% turnover percentage which is higher than both James Harden and Monta Ellis who were both in the top 10 in the league in terms of total turnovers  . That number could either increase or stay stagnant this season as Milwaukee’s point guard situation remains a huge question mark.

Pick and Roll Defense

As we begin the defensive portion of this piece, our subject faces off against an extremely familiar face. As Monta Ellis quickly works his way around a set screen from Sanders with mere seconds on the clock, Mayo calculates his movements as he moves closer to Ellis. With Monta Ellis preparing to lace up a mid-range jumper, Mayo is able to work around Sanders and put his hand in the face of Ellis and hinder his shot attempt.

The following play showcases Mayo’s overall man-to-man defensive potential as he faces off against veteran point guard Andre Miller. After working off of a base screen/distraction by Kenneth Faried, Miller starts to post up on Mayo as they both quickly work their way to the paint.  Despite the end result, Mayo did a pretty solid job of defending Miller inside the paint as he stayed extremely close to his man as he hit the off-balance jumper.

As per Synergy Sports, Mayo was extremely solid when he was defending the pick and roll last season as his opponents averaged a miniscule .7 PPP (Points Per Possession).


Similar to the aforementioned play involving Mayo defending Nuggets guard Andre Miller, our subject does an extremely solid job defending his opponent despite the final result. As young Rockets forward Chandler Parsons takes control of the ball after an off-target pass by Jeremy Lin, he bodies up Mayo as he starts to penetrate. Again, Mayo does an excellent job of staying near Parsons without drawing too much contact but that’s not enough as the Rockets forward is still able to hit the mid-range jumper.

With defenders averaging .87 PPP against Mayo in isolation situations, Mayo remains a solid defensive guard despite the small sample size.

Off Screen

The string of bad luck for O.J. Mayo continues with the above play against Orlando guard Arron Afflalo. Both of the two athletes start the play by working simultaneously around an off-ball screen set by Nikola Vucevic. That simultaneous movement allows Mayo to instantly get in the face of Afflalo as Arron prepares himself inside the paint. Despite the preparation, Mayo is unable to prevent Afflalo from hitting the short jumper.

That above sequence appears to be completely different from the truth as opponents shot 47% in off screen scenarios when they work against O.J. Mayo. As I’ve previously mentioned in this piece, Mayo is not the quickest players which can lead to some issues when he attempts to work around an off-ball screen.


In July, Milwaukee pretty much made a commitment for O.J. Mayo to be the team’s starting shooting guard for the next three seasons. While he will never stack up with the likes of James Harden, Mayo has proved himself to be a reliable starting guard while having  potential to grow as a player in the  future. His overall offensive presence from the perimeter and beyond will instantly make him Milwaukee’s top scoring option when he steps on the court in November against the Celtics. With that said, his reliability goes downhill when he’s taking care of the offensive because of the aforementioned mental lapses.

Defensively, Mayo’s relatively average despite his extremely solid ability to defend the pick and roll. That average defensive ability will be remarkable for Bucks fans after living through the Monta Ellis/Brandon Jennings era.