Chad Baker-Masada had an interesting season, to say the least. He is a player with loads of potential who had outbursts on both ends of the floor, and quickly became a fan favorite. It seemed as if every other game he was jumping passing lanes and getting dunks in transition, or hitting the mid-range pull-ups he loves so much on his way to 15+ points.
Despite that, he was often the seventh or eighth man off the bench for most of the season. The team needed offense and the coaches would not turn to him. He was arguably the second best offensive player on the team, and was a plus on defense according to every metric, but he was on the bench far more than most fans would have wanted.
The reason is likely his decision making and overall streakiness. He had great games, but also had multiple games where he scored zero points in 10+ minutes. He had multiple games were he would make some silly mistake that would put him and the team in a bad position, often in the form of getting a technical foul.
The number one priority for CBM is his decision making and IQ. Fixing those will get him increased time on the floor.
CBM has all the tools needed to be a successful defender. He’s long, he’s athletic, and he can be disruptive when he wants to. He was third on the team in both steal percentage and block percentage, and had a well above average D-PIPM. He has a knack for jumping passing lanes, or sliding into the lane to draw a charge.
CBM is versatile enough to guard multiple positions, which is a requirement in the Aztecs’ defensive scheme. He won’t lock anyone down, but he can make things hard for them and force some turnovers, which can be demoralizing for opponents.
One of Baker-Mazara’s main issues all season was his decision making and silly mistakes. He committed 4.5 fouls per 40 minutes, which isn’t great. A lot of those fouls should be easily avoided. It can make it hard to give him consistent minutes if he’s constantly in foul trouble. The theme of his season was decision making, and it occurred on both ends of the floor.
CBM has a lot of potential as an offensive player. He has great size, good enough ball handling, and most importantly, he is a career 40% shooter from behind the arc. His floor should be a good 3&D player. That’s the worst case scenario.
In order to improve he’ll need to change his decision making, specifically his shot selection. CBM loves to take one dribble pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, but he’s not great at them. He shot 33% on two point jumpers, and 37% on all jump shots off the dribble. Those are bad numbers, especially when considering his career accuracy from behind the arc. As much as he loves that mid range shot, he needs to refine it before it can be a reliable weapon. Otherwise he is just giving up points.
One issue is that sometimes it appears CBM does not know what shot he is taking until it is too late, looking like he is deciding after the jump whether to shoot a floater, or a jumper, or to maybe try and pass out, and it all happens too quickly and ruins his form. Refining that decision making process should help a lot.
All that being said, CBM can be a nightmare for opposing defenses. When he gets clean looks behind the arc he is deadly.
Add to that his ability to finish at the rim, and his efficiency with free throws, and he becomes a deadly player. He has also flashed some playmaking ability, although not consistently. If he can put it all together he could challenge for a starting spot this year. The team needs guys who are willing and able to shoot from deep in order to create driving lanes for guys like Butler and Bradley. CBM has the tools to do that very well.
Most of the starting spots are locked up for next season. The last spot will likely be a battle between CBM, Keshad Johnson, and Darrion Trammell/ Lamont Butler. CBM will have a chance to win that spot.
Whether off the bench or not, CBM has the ability to be a microwave and score 7+ points in two minutes. If he can cut down on the silly mistakes and fouls his minutes will go up.