Wesley Matthews took to Media Day on Monday to address the topic of having Harrison Barnes alongside of him defending on the wing.
Last year, coming off his gruesome Achilles injury, Matthews defied the odds and was in the starting lineup on opening night. Not only was he in the starting lineup, but he took on the task of guarding the opposing team’s best player.
But 2016-17 looks to be different.
As a result of the Kevin Durant decision, Dallas capitalized on the availability of Harrison Barnes as they handed the young forward a max contract. Much of the talk surrounding Barnes has been around his potential on offense, but his wing defense will be huge in Dallas.
Barnes will give Dallas the versatility to have multiple wing defenders to guard some of the best in the league. Last year, Matthews was the only option for the Mavs to guard elite point guards on the wing to power forwards in the post. Now, Dallas has Barnes to take some of the pressure off of Matthews.
On Media Day, Matthews was asked about Barnes taking some of that pressure off of him.
"“I’ve been messing with [Harrison] Barnes. I can finally guard my position, I can guard two guards.”"
This is big for Matthews as not only is he back healthy, but he can get back to focusing more on his offensive game.
Many nights last season Matthews was forced to use the majority of his energy on the defensive end guarding the best wing player on the opposing team. Now Barnes can take on some of that role as Matthews can get back to his normal ways offensively.
After Matthews made the comment about finally being able to guard players at his position because he has Barnes next to him, fans on social media took the comment as a jab towards Chandler Parsons.
Although you could read into the comment as a jab towards Parsons’ ability on defense, I strongly believe Matthews was simply praising Barnes’ ability on defense and the flexibility they will have on the defensive end.
Either way, the combination of Barnes and Matthews on the defensive end should pay dividends in Dallas this coming season.