Rodrigue Beaubois remains somewhat of a riddle as the guard with Globetrotter-like flair from the little island of Guadeloupe nears the end of his third NBA regular season.
Is he a point guard or a shooting guard or both? Can he be more of a competitor than an entertainer? Does he merit a significant role once the Mavs’ roster is fully healthy?
And the biggest question right now about Roddy B.: Can the Mavs really count on the kid in prime time?
The answer to that question at the end of Beaubois’ injury-interrupted sophomore season was absolutely not, which is why the Mavs’ vets successfully lobbied for DeShawn Stevenson to replace him in the starting lineup for the regular-season finale and postseason. The Mavs are still in the process of figuring out whether Beaubois is really big-game ready after another year of seasoning.
His splendid performances in wins over a pair of playoff teams -- the Spurs and Nuggets -- during the last week were certainly encouraging. Was Beaubois’ off night in the loss to the Lakers just a hiccup or him reverting to form against high-caliber competition?
“These are all great opportunities for him to get better,” coach Rick Carlisle said after Wednesday night’s loss to L.A., when Beaubois had six points on 3-of-12 shooting and struggled defensively when matched up with Kobe Bryant or Ramon Sessions. “This has been one of the more difficult teams for him to play against if you look at his history, but I will remind everybody that the last two games were against pretty damn good teams, too, and he played terrific.
“We’ve got to stay the course with him. To be fair, we’ve got to look at larger blocks of time and we’ve got to have discretion about when we get the microscope out.”
It’s notable that this was the first time Beaubois got off the bench against the Lakers this season. He sat during the Mavs’ first two losses to Kobe and Co. this season, as Carlisle called those “veteran’s games.”
As Carlisle mentioned, Beaubois has never had much success against the Lakers. He had a couple of particularly painful-to-watch performances in losses to the Lakers during the brief experiment with Beaubois as a starter last season.
Is that because of matchups -- good luck finding many guards who feast against Kobe -- or because the figurative lights are too bright for Beaubois?
“It just wasn’t a good night for me,” Beaubois said. “It was tough for me to find a rhythm and the shot wasn’t going in. That doesn’t help, but I have to find a way to help the team even when my shot doesn’t go in. Tonight, that wasn’t the case. I have to do a better job of that.
“It happens, but I have to be ready for the next one.”
The next one happens to be against the Spurs, the one elite West foe that Beaubois has given fits.
Beaubois only non-garbage time playoff experience came out of desperation when the Mavs dug a big hole in a win-or-the-end Game 6 against the Spurs in the 2010 first round. He got the Mavs back in the game with 16 points in 21 minutes before Carlisle made the controversial decision to go with ice-cold Jason Terry as the Mavs fizzled down the stretch.
Two of Beaubois’ best games this season came against the Spurs. As the fill-in starting point guard, Beaubois had 14 points and seven assists in a Jan. 29 overtime win, when fellow Frenchman Tony Parker was 2-of-11 from the floor and watched the entire fourth quarter and OT from the bench with the rest of the Spurs’ starters. Beaubois had 16 points and a career-high-tying eight rebounds in last week’s win over the Spurs.
“I don’t think he looks at any game like prime time,” Jason Kidd said. “I think he just wants to get better at his craft and we all want to help him get better. It’s not about prime time. It’s just a matter of being good and being consistent. That’s what we all fight to try to do.”
That might be true, but Beaubois has more to prove than any other holdover from last season’s Mavericks' roster. With the Mavs two games into a 10-game stretch against playoff competition, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to do it.