The Mavericks Will Need J.J. Barea at His Best to Start the Season
By Kohl Rast
The Dallas Mavericks season starts in two days and Mavs fans are getting excited. Although everyone is here to see Dennis Smith Jr., the fact is that J.J. Barea may be even more important to the Mavs early season success.
Of all the Dallas Mavericks that have come and gone throughout the years, it is hard to find one who has been a more pleasant surprise than J.J. Barea. Barea, an undrafted point guard from Northeastern University, joined the Mavs in 2006, where he played in only 33 games and averaged 2.4 points.
After a lot of flip-flopping from the Mavs coaching staff, Barea was sent down to the D-League for a few games. In the 8 games JJ spent with the Fort Worth Flyers (now the Texas Legends), he averaged 27.3 points, 7.8 assists, 5 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game. Obviously he did not stay in the D-League for long and, before we knew it, J.J. Barea was a rotational player in Dallas.
Fast-forward 11 years, and everyone in Dallas, Miami, and Los Angeles know exactly who Barea is. His unbelievable play-style, emphasized by his speed and uncanny ability to get to and finish at the hoop, is starting to diminish a little bit with age, but Barea is still a dangerous player when on the court.
Dallas is going to need Barea to find a little bit of his prime self within him this year, because the Mavs are going to suffer from growing pains. With guards like Dennis Smith Jr., Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry, Devin Harris, and Wesley Matthews, the Mavs have an abundance of talent. But, for that talent to really shine through, a veteran is going to need to allow them to progress.
This is where Barea really comes in. Despite what people want to believe, Dennis Smith Jr. is likely going to experience some struggles early on in his NBA career. Although he is mentally and physically capable for the starting spot, his numbers to start the season might not reflect his actual potential. That is just how it goes 9 times out of 10.
Yogi is a great backup option but is also going into his first full season of the NBA. Although he started his career incredibly well, there is a high risk of a sophomore slump. Again, this is where Barea is going to be needed the most.
With a savvy backup like Barea, the Mavericks are not going to have to worry about someone being able to run the offense. Barea has a ton of experience, has been in crunch time numerous times in his career, and is a great veteran to learn from for both DSJ and Yogi.
Once the season begins, Dallas will have to start leaning on the veterans to keep them out of an early hole. Barea may be the most important of those veterans as he will be tasked with both filling in for young, growing point guards, and teaching them as they grow.
Next: Assessing the Dallas Mavericks Final Roster
No matter what happens, J.J. Barea is going to be a key contributor to the Mavericks this year. Keep an eye out for the little Puerto Rican as he does his thing for another great season of Mavericks basketball.