Dallas Mavericks fan favorite guard J.J. Barea returned from his Achilles tendon injury and now has a new role of veteran leader to the young core.
Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea ruptured his right Achilles tendon in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Jan. 11, 2019.
It cost him the rest of the season and sidelined J.J. for nine months. It was Barea’s first major injury in his career. There were questions about his future, though. Barea was 34 years old and Achilles tears are one of the worst injuries for NBA players.
“It’s gut-wrenching for all of us, it’s gut-wrenching for the team, for coaches, for the fans,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said just after the injury occurred. “It’s hard to put into a few words what J.J. Barea has been to everybody here. One of the really, truly, more resourceful players in Mavericks history.”
First game back
The crafty veteran point guard attacked his rehab vigorously. He finally returned to the court on Nov. 6 to begin his 14th NBA season.
The Mavericks were playing the Magic at home that night. They were behind by eight points in the second quarter and needed a spark. Barea entered to a barrage of cheers and immediately got the Mavericks back in the game. He connected on three straight 3-pointers in the quarter. Barea finished the night with 11 points and three dimes in 15.7 minutes of action.
New role, same J.J.
Barea has played in 26 of the Mavericks 67 games so far this season. His minutes have decreased to 15.0 per game. It was a way to continue his rehab, but still, give him time on the court. Barea averaged 7.5 points and 3.8 assists on 41.3 percent from the field and 38.2 percent from three.
The veteran has grown into a fan-favorite of the Mavericks community. He went from an undrafted young point guard to a champion and now a veteran leader on the team.
Over the years, Barea has provided the Mavs with key playmaking and crafty scoring off the bench. He is instant offense, lifting the second unit and pulling the Mavericks out of tough spots.
Barea has played in 49 playoff games. The Mavericks are a young team. His championship pedigree and veteran leadership are valuable, especially in the postseason.
On the other hand, Barea is 35 coming off an injury. He sits in the twilight of his career. The Mavericks have a plethora of guard options too. Being a ball-dominant guard, Barea would find it difficult to co-exist in lineups including other players that need to handle it on the floor with him.
He would likely see an expanded role during the playoffs because of his experience. Over the years, Carlisle has favored the likes of veteran guards. Barea would provide valuable experience to lead and win games. It hinders young talent from gaining experience, though. That is why the Mavs have not used him more during the regular season.
This season has proved that Barea still has a lot left in the tank, and can be a valuable piece for the younger core moving forward. His value doesn’t come from just being on the court. Barea’s role as a veteran leader helping the younger guys made him a valuable piece for the Mavericks.
Barea signed a one-year deal for the veteran’s minimum with the Mavs this past August. It is unsure if Barea will still be in a Mavericks’ uniform next season. Young teams need veteran leaders. Barea would serve wonders in that role when the postseason rolls around.