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Player Grades: Frank Mason

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Our backup point guard outperformed his second round value.

NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Grading anything as subjective as an entire NBA season is always a tough gig. Different people have different goals for an individual as well as different techniques for assessing a seven month long journey. To keep things moderately simple, I will be using the expectations we had heading into the season for each player as the barometer for how well their season went. These grades won’t necessarily tell us where they rank among their fellow NBA players or what their career trajectory may be, but rather it will help assess where we stand with that prospect today compared to where we stood in October.

Player: Frank Mason III

Grade: B

Reasoning: Frank Mason used his first season in the pros to establish himself as a bonafide NBA player. He was the second-best rookie on the team and outperformed many draftees selected before him last June. Frank’s aggressive nature was a breath of fresh air on a team fraught with passive point guards, often resulting in major minutes for the former Kansas standout. He wasn’t a perfect player by any means, but it should be considered a success anytime the low-risk investment of a second round selection turns into a rotational contributor.

Areas of Strength

Comparing Mason’s rookie year contributions with other members of his draft class paints an encouraging canvas of his future. While he fell to the 34th pick, Frank was in the top-20 range in several statistical categories, well above expectations:

Rookie Comps

Category Metric Rookie Rank
Category Metric Rookie Rank
Minutes Per Game 18.9 19th
Points Per Game 7.9 12th
Rebounds Per Game 2.5 21st
Assists Per Game 2.8 7th
3P% 36% 13th
Points Per 36 Mins 15.1 10th
Rebound Percentage 7.7% 18th
Assist Percentage 23% 5th
Ast/TO Ratio 2.26 3rd

His production also outperforms his minutes played. Mason received the 19th most minutes per game among 2017 draftees, but was able to rank better than 19th in eight of those nine metrics. Out of all of the players who clearly outplayed our backup point guard, only two or three were selected after him, a good sign for the value of his draft position.

Frank was also able to affect his teammates’ performances in a positive way. He led all rotational players in net rating, finishing with an offensive rating of 103.4 and a defensive rating of 105.3, totaling -1.9. That far outpaced the second-place finisher on the squad, Buddy Hield, who ended the year with a net rating of -3.9. Our young nucleus also seemed to benefit from his presence on the hardwood, as almost every single player improved when sharing the court with Mason:

Teammate Improvements

Player MPG Shared On Court NRtg Off Court NRtg Differential
Player MPG Shared On Court NRtg Off Court NRtg Differential
Hield 15.2 2.9 -7.4 10.3
Bogdanovic 10.1 -3.8 -10.2 6.4
Cauley-Stein 9.5 -2.1 -9.4 7.3
Labissiere 8.6 -2.1 -5.5 3.4
Jackson 8.4 -10.3 -7.7 -2.6

While he was no Donovan Mitchell or Ben Simmons, Frank Mason outshone many of the players taken ahead of him last June. His career will likely be that of an average to above-average backup point guard, something every team absolutely needs.

Areas of Opportunity

Back in April, I detailed some bad habits that Frank had developed, and those inefficient choices made him a much less impactful player than he could have been otherwise. While Mason’s aggressive nature early in the season opened up additional opportunities later in the year, his shot-choice and decision-making were well below par.

Our first year guard drove the ball 7.3 times per game, second on the team to De’Aaron Fox’s 8.4, but blew everyone out of the water on a per-36 basis, averaging a whopping 13.9, placing him in the top 20 in the entire NBA. And while he certainly attacked the rim with ferocity, the results didn’t justify the volume of his charges into the lane.

Mason sunk only 32.9% of his shots results from drives during the 2017-2018 campaign, by far the least successful percentage on the team and, more importantly, the worst in the entire league. He also ranked dead last among 279 qualified players when attempting any shot within the restricted area of the paint, making only 43.4% of those field goals. The lack of accuracy at the rim wasn’t justified by regular trips to the free throw line or by impressive court vision either. Of his 377 drives on the season, Mason only assisted on 40 total buckets and drew just 25 fouls, not nearly enough of either metric to warrant his excessive dives into the key.

Final Thoughts: While he wasn’t an offensive juggernaut, a defensive stopper, or a wizard with the ball, Frank Mason was able to cement himself in the rotation this year, an important step for a second round pick. He was an NBA-ready rookie who was able to step onto the floor and immediately have an positive impact as an individual, as well as a boost to his fellow teammates. Mason needs to improve his decision-making when he has the ball in his hands, and like many other young Kings, he needs to stop passing up good, open shots for tough drives into the trees. His flaws were crystal clear, and there wasn’t any evidence of stardom in his future, but Frank Mason’s ability to produce as a backup point guard shouldn’t be overlooked or underrated.