Mayo thriving early as Bucks’ go-to guy
No one on the revamped Milwaukee Bucks roster is carving out a niche more quickly than O.J. Mayo.
The 26-year-old guard, signed by Milwaukee on July 13, has developed into the team’s most consistent scorer during the first three weeks of the season, averaging 17.7 points per game.
Mayo, already in his sixth National Basketball Association season, was shooting a sizzling .552 from 3-point territory and .941 from the free-throw line through the team’s first seven games of the campaign.
Selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the third overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, Mayo recently achieved the following five-point play:
Q: “What were your primary reasons for signing as a free agent with the Bucks?”
A: “I think what appealed most to be was it was an organization that wanted me to represent the team and to come in here and show the NBA that I’m a player who can start in this league and help a team win.
“The last two years were kind of like a one-year deal. You always put pressure on yourself to perform at the best level. Now I’ve got the comfort of a three-year deal. I’m very blessed. I’m looking forward to giving all I’ve got to help this organization get where it once was.”
Q: “After four seasons with Memphis and one with Dallas, how are you approaching your latest challenge here in Milwaukee?”
A: “I think playing with a selfless attitude. When guys come into a situation, they’re so honed-in on individual goals. I just want to come in here and continue with what’s been built here. Last year, eighth seed. As a player, it’s great to get to the playoffs, but at the same time, you want a winning season.
“I think we have an opportunity to show the city and the organization that we’re getting better, making improvements and strides. I’m going to do whatever I need to do in order to help this team be successful. If I have to be a tough guy, bite, scratch, whatever I need to do to be successful. I think if you ask any player or anybody in management, they’ll tell you that’s needed.”
Q: “How excited are you to be playing in the same city as your brother, Todd, who plays for Marquette University, and what does that mean for your family?”
A: “I’m happy to be here -- totally happy. I like everything about the city but the cold. I don’t tell him what he has to do much at all. At the end of the day, he has to be focused on what he has to do … the same thing for me. It was the best decision for me to come here. For my mom to be able to come here and catch two games, it’s just icing on the cake. She’s so happy.”
Q: “How do you feel about being a go-to guy late in the game with the outcome in the balance?”
A: “I’m not afraid at all to take a big shot. I think every ballplayer, growing up, has done that countdown to taking the big shot. At the end of the day, you trust your coach to make the best decision at that time in the game. But if you’re asking if I’m ready, yes. I ain’t scared of too much in this world. I have a blessed opportunity.
“I enjoy being pushed to try to become the best player I can be. When I was coming off the bench, it was hard for me to be unhappy because we were winning and winning more than we’d ever won before.”
Q: “What are your impressions of the roster overhaul Milwaukee made since last season, and what does this team need to do to mesh and succeed?”
A: “This is a great group of guys. We have veterans like Gary Neal, who’s played with some of the best players who’ve ever played our game. We’ve got good, young players who are going to continue to get better. When you have pieces like those and a new coach, it’s super exciting to see how your team is going to get better, and at the same time, you have a chance to go out and win.
“I think when you have 11 new guys, who could have 11 new agendas going on. I think that’s the wrong way to approach it. If we all come and do our job individually as best we can and have an attitude of not caring who the next pass goes to or who has the hot hand tonight and just play ball the right way night-in and night-out, that’ll give us the best chance of winning. If we play basketball the right way, the way we learned how to play when we were 7, 8 years old, I think the fans will respect us. We all have to come out with an unselfish attitude and understand that winning’s the most important thing.”