The Miami Heat announced the signing of free agent guard Roger Mason Jr. earlier today. A 6-5 shooting guard, he brings with him career averages of 6.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game. More importantly to Miami, however, is his career 38% 3 point shooting. If you've been keeping up with how the Heat have constructed the fringes of their roster during the LeBron era, it's that they love efficient 3 point shooters at good prices.
And it doesn't get better than non-guaranteed does it? Don't feel bad for Roger if he doesn't make it past training camp though. He gets a trip to the Bahamas!
Hopefully he doesn't hang around Beasley too much...
MIami's guaranteed roster stands at 13 players and there are 19 on the total roster with Mason in the fold. Two players have a shot at making the team, but the Heat staff could comfortably roll with only 13 by opening day. Where Mason has an advantage is that he plays a position Miami is somewhat thin at, albeit with two future hall of famers in Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen. Wade's certainly dealt with his share of questions regarding his health recently and Ray Allen is at an age where very few shooting guards in NBA history have made it to at 38. Also, with Mike Miller gone, there are few players who could man that spot if something did happen to either Wade or Allen, unless you want to see those delightful Cole/Chalmers backcourts again.
Mason really didn't get much playing time in the league until the 2007-2008 season when he landed with Washington and averaged a respectable 9 points with a cool 40% from downtown. He followed that up with his best season as a pro, joining the San Antonio Spurs and averaging a career high 12 points per game with 42-42-89 shooting splits. Looking closer at his three point shooting that season, we can see that Mason excelled at the left corner and wings
Roger Mason Jr. Shooting Splits 2008-2009 season (via NBA.com)
Mason had a few down years after his stint with the Spurs, but found himself on the New Orleans
Hornets Pelicans last season and, in limited minutes, shot 41.5% from downtown.
Roger Mason Jr. Shooting Splits 2012-2013 season (via NBA.com)
Mason struggled from the corners and from the top of the key. Instead, he opted to take over half of his 3 point attempts from the wings and was scintillating, hitting over 50% from these areas. He was also excellent from midrange, areas where Wade and Allen have been inconsistent in. Mason possesses some rudimentary pick and roll abilities, which he often uses to shoot from midrange off the dribble. Through his career, though, Mason been below average at finishing at the rim, but the Heat certainly won't ask that of him if he were to make the team.
Roger Mason Jr. 17 Points Full Highlights (1/9/2013) (via DownToBuck)
Mason will likely have to prove his worth as a defender in camp to stick out from the young crop of players making up the non-guaranteed contracts. Mason had a reputation as a solid man-to-man defender in the past, but at 33, it remains to be seen if he can still bring that intensity night in and night out at both ends. Playing on an awful New Orleans squad didn't give him much incentive to try at that end this past season. If Roger can show to still be useful at that end, he could conceivably make his way into the actual rotation at Ray Allen's expense if he were to struggle or get injured.
I believe Roger Mason Jr. has a very solid shot to make the final roster, though he could find himself in a suit more often than not if the team stays healthy. Pat Riley loves a good veteran player with playoff experience over an inexperienced rookie prone to highs and lows. Mason brings decent size and good long range shooting from the shooting guard position. He's not a dynamo from the corners like Miami would prefer, but he's serviceable from there and an absolute ace from the wings who can heat up and carry a team for stretches. If Mason has a good camp, it would be another excellent bargain signing for Miami in 2013.