The Dallas Mavericks beat the Orlando Magic on Wednesday, but they had to turn to the likes of J.J. Barea to survive the first half. Unfortunately, it came at the expense of Jalen Brunson and his minutes.
There are going to be a lot of questions for the Dallas Mavericks going forward. One of the big ones will be an issue that we were all aware of before the season started, which is: How will the Mavs be able to get minutes for everyone. Through the first 8 games, the answer has been that Dallas just hasn’t hardly played a few players.
J.J. Barea got into a game for the first time on Wednesday when the Mavs desperately needed someone to spark the team so that we didn’t get embarrassed by a below average Orlando Magic team. The problem is that he totally rocked it in his short time off the bench, proving that he is still very capable of being that spark.
Because Barea played so well, Carlisle stuck with him, which caused other players to lose out on minutes that they have normally gotten. The person who got hit the worst from this was Jalen Brunson, who played barely six minutes in the eventual win over Orlando. Brunson is a great two-way guard that the Mavs are super excited about, but sometimes you have to change things up.
If Barea is going to start getting regular minutes (not a guarantee but definitely a possibility) some players will have more gaps between their minutes. Seth Curry could be on the receiving end, Delon Wright may miss out on some time, but the fact is that Brunson has the most to lose if Barea becomes a rotational piece again.
Dallas is going to have to figure this out. Brunson is too good of a player to be riding the pine night in and night out, but with the spark that Barea brought on Wednesday, it is so hard to see a scenario where he is not on the court much more frequently.
One potential solution could be the Mavs running more small ball. Barea and Brunson on the court together doesn’t sound great, but Brunson’s defensive abilities are getting better and his ability to guard either guard position is there. If the Mavs went this route and took a few minutes from Luka Doncic, it may be a better thing.
Right now, Luka is averaging nearly 36 minutes per night, the 8th most in the league. Obviously the Mavs are at their best when Luka is on the court, but they also have a bench that can hang with almost anyone. Utilizing the bench a little more in order to taper Luka’s minutes a little bit sounds like something the Mavs should at least start considering before too late into the season.
The Mavs just honestly have too many players that the fans really like and want to see on the court. No team in the NBA can effectively manage a 12-man lineup, and yet that is exactly what Mavs fans want to see. It just isn’t a realistic option.
The Mavs are still working out some kinks and trying to figure out how best to approach lineups, minutes and rotations. For now, let’s just hope that the reappearance of Barea has not hurt the play time of one of our best young players, Jalen Brunson.