New York basketball fans are familiar with players rising to superstardom from obscurity, like when Jeremy Lin and Linsanity swept through the city in 2012. Recently, another hoops phenomenon with roots in the five boroughs blossomed, but not in the Big Apple.
Yogi Ferrell’s emergence as an integral piece on the Mavericks after making the most of his 10-day contract with the team will cause some Nets fans to scratch their heads. Undrafted out of Indiana last year, Ferrell shined on the D-League’s Long Island Nets as an aggressive, efficient player with great court vision and instincts. Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson dubbed him the “Energizer Bunny” in October.
But Ferrell, 23, only averaged about 15 minutes on the court in 10 NBA appearances before being waived Dec. 8.
Ferrell’s short-term contract with the Mavericks was a lifeline — potentially his last stop before playing abroad. Instead, Ferrell has reinvigorated a meandering Dallas team. He dropped 32 points with nine 3-pointers Feb. 3 in a win over the Trail Blazers and is averaging 16.3 points in six starts with Deron Williams, himself a former Net, injured and out of the lineup. Now, with a fresh two-year contract, YogiMania is taking Texas by storm.
“It’s a mockery within a travesty within a transmogrification that he wasn’t NBA Player of the Week,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told reporters Wednesday.
Ferrell’s per-minute scoring is up in Dallas, but not significantly better than his time in a Brooklyn uniform, and his rebounding and assists per minute are roughly the same. The 6-foot point guard has thrived with the Mavs in a pick-and-roll system that allows him to find an open man, pull up or take it to the rim.
Ferrell’s nightly stat line may look a bit less impressive after Williams and J.J. Barea return, but that won’t stop him from igniting a team very much in need of an “Energizer Bunny.” Meanwhile, the Nets must look for a spark elsewhere.