People who know my writing know I’m not the most optimistic guy around. I like to think it’s because I’m an empiricist, but it might be just that I’m grumpy. Still, as an empiricist, I tend to take the early performance of guys like Yogi Ferrell with a grain of salt. It does not usually happen that guys with his story turn out to be good NBA players. There are bigtime exceptions – Hassan Whiteside is one – but by and large when it comes to talent acquisition, NBA teams know what they’re doing.
But Yogi has now been with the Mavericks for roughly two months, and has played around 30 minutes a game since they picked him up. His good play might still be a mirage, something other teams haven’t game-planned for yet, but it’s hardly a flash in the pan. He averaged 12 points and 4.7 assists in February, shooting .411 from the field, .412 from the three-point line and .864 at the charity stripe, and he’s averaging 11.9 points and 4.5 assists on .431/.357/.920 so far in March. That’s a significant amount of consistency, and it’s not being created by a handful of big games. Yogi has scored 10 or more in 11 of his last 19 games, and had five or more assists in 11 as well.
The things we know about Yogi so far are that he can score a little and pass a little. We know he can shoot the three, which is very important for Mavericks point guards. He’s not going to go 9-of-11 from the arc every night, like he did Feb. 3 against Portland, but he has generally shot pretty well from behind the arc.
The concern with Yogi so far is that he has not shot well generally. He’s had six sub-30-percent games since the start of February, which is not NBA caliber. His really good three-point games are sandwiched around some really bad ones: 2-of-4 on March 16, 3-of-5 on March 10, 2-of-4 on March 7, but 1-of-3, 0-for-2, 1-of-3, 1-of-3, 0-for-4 the rest of the month. It’s tempting to say, “He’s young, he can improve,” and he might. But if you combine his low percentages with his profile, it’s sort of unlikely.
That, however, is really okay. It is so tempting to want a rags-to-riches story, but actually rags-to-decent-cloth is okay. The Mavs could use a surprise star, but they could also use a cheap, competent backup PG, not to mention one who, like Yogi and unlike J.J.Barea, may indeed get better over time. Yogi would seem to have a bright future with the Mavericks, and I’m excited to see where it goes.