Feb 14, 2011, 11:40 AM EDT
Tuesday night, O.J. Mayo is back.
The man has served his debt to the NBA, a 10 game suspension for testing positive for banned substance dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is over. He says he got it in his system by drinking an energy drink he bought at a convenience store. You can chose to believe that or not. Doesn’t really matter.
The big thing is — the Memphis Grizzlies have done just fine without Mayo, having gone 8-2 without him. Zach Randolph was putting up 20 and 14, Rudy Gay and Mike Conley both played well also. More importantly, in Mayo’s absence the Memphis bench developed improved and changed — now Mayo has to blend in with that, coach Lionel Hollins told the Commercial Appeal.
“The team is not static. It’s fluid. It’s changing constantly,” Hollins said. “He’ll be trying to find out where the team is and trying to catch up to that rhythm. It’s going to be difficult. The team has moved in a positive direction…”
The bench also developed a different identity in Mayo’s absence. The reserves have gone from deferring to Mayo for scoring to following veteran guard Tony Allen‘s lead with gritty, defensive-minded play. The Grizzlies have also enjoyed more ball movement and an effective zone defense from their second unit.
Mayo’s name will continue to come up on the trade block for the next 10 days as well, so soon he may have to adjust to something else entirely. But for now, the new reality in Memphis is Mayo’s first test.