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J.J. Barea's struggles & other Mavericks guard rotation problems

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Today's Moneyball Mailbag tackles some questions revolving around the Dallas guards and Pachulia's offensive rebounding.

We're more than a quarter into the NBA season and it still feels like we're months from understanding this rendition of the Dallas Mavericks. The odd, gradual recovery of Chandler Parsons is at the forefront of it, while the strange lack of shotmaking from people who should be able to make shots also plays in.

It's been some time since our last mailbag but I asked for questions on Twitter earlier in the week and here's the best answers I could come up with. Sorry if I didn't get to your answer but

The biggest problem with the Mavericks' guard rotation so far this season, to me, is that Wesley Matthews is barely in it. Matthews, who spent 76 percent of his career minutes at shooting guard in Utah and Portland, has spent 71 percent of his minutes at small forward filling in for Chandler Parsons, according to Matthews has even spent five percent of his minutes at power forward, a position he never played prior to coming to Dallas.

Obviously, Parsons at full strength will help push Matthews back to his more natural guard position, although it wouldn't surprise me if he still finishes the season with a near 50/50 split at guard and forward. Until then, it's still going to be Raymond Felton, Devin Harris and J.J. Barea trying their best to fill in.

You'd think Harris and Barea's shooting have to come around eventually. Harris has always been streaky and his offensive game in general is showing glimpses of emerging from what has been a cold, cold start. Barea's also below his averages, although a 5-of-6 shooting night from behind the arc on Saturday helped correct those slightly. (Unfortunately, his efforts were wasted on a failed comeback.)

I saw enough from John Jenkins as Barea and Harris missed time to think that he'll get some more chances throughout the year, even if he never finds consistent minutes. Justin Anderson's a rookie and that's that.

By March, Felton and Harris particularly should all have smaller roles where they aren't asked to do quite as much. While I fear what might happen if Deron Williams goes down for an extended period of time, that's a hurdle the Mavericks will have to awkwardly trip over when it gets here.

Above is the general rundown but yes, Barea deserves a bit extra attention. This question and answer is a bit like an isolation play for him with the shot clock running down, am I right? (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

I tackled the Barea problem a few weeks back and will rehash a few of my points: yes, he's by far the leading dribbler on the Mavericks, which is annoying to watch but all within what the Mavericks ask him to do. Yes, sometimes it seems like he's running the offense into the ground with these strange shot attempts or floor-pounding play, but Dallas score five more points per game with him on the court last year.

While Barea's presence increases the Mavericks' pace -- and earning easy transition points has been a major struggle this year -- it's not having the same positive effect on the offense. When I wrote about Barea the first time, his impact was negligible. Now it's just bad, with the offense scoring about two points more when Barea's off the floor. He looks a little bit slower and with his shooting numbers falling below his career percentages, Barea has hurt Dallas most of the season.

Still, until Parsons can begin to take some of the ball handling load away from Felton and Williams, I don't see Barea going anywhere. This isn't as simple as "Barea or Jenkins" because Jenkins isn't the same type of player and shouldn't be playing point. In a month, if Barea does finally get that demotion, it'll be Felton -- finally relieved of his closing lineup responsibilities -- who takes his place as the primary ball handler off the bench.

please buy and send me different kinds of cheesecake so I can determine the correct answer

They should be. I can't imagine Parsons isn't quite a bit better come March. When you judge him on a per minute basis, his numbers aren't as good as his career averages, but they're not far off, either. He doesn't always look completely healthy, but in two months from now, you'd have to expect he's a lot more like the Parsons we saw down the stretch last year than the one we've seen in short increments this season.

As for a playoff series, I think it'd be very disappointing at this point if they don't make it there and I think that whenever you have Rick Carlisle, you have an added advantage in a seven-game series. Not sure it equals out to the Mavericks advancing past the first round for the first time since 2011, but just know the team you're watching now isn't the same one that should be competing in the postseason come May.

This question isn't worthy of an answer. If you don't know, then, well, there's no hope for you.

Essentially yes. The Mavericks' cardinal rule is that only the center can crash the offensive board (although they've been bad at defending in transition anyway, so figure that out). Pachulia and Powell are often outnumbered going for a ball and it's a lot easy to bat it in one direction than corral it with two opposing players around you. I only play basketball in rec leagues these days and I have the vertical of an adolescent elephant, but I'll run into these same situations, where my only chance at a ball is to tip it back rather than bring it in myself.

I'd read this great article from the New York Times about Tyson Chandler two years ago, who famously did it all the time for the Mavericks and then the Knicks. While I'm not sure the Mavericks are explicitly telling Pachulia to tip back offensive boards, it just makes sense, especially given how little Dallas crashes the offensive glass.