The waiving of Deron Williams, signing of Yogi Ferrell and the rest of the Mavericks’ moves around the deadline have left the team with an interesting question. Remember J.J. Barea? Well, he will be back this Friday or soon thereafter.
The Mavs signed D-League star Quinn Cook to a 10-day contract to help in the interim, which is fine. But when Barea returns, how will the guard rotation sort out between Ferrell, Devin Harris, and Seth Curry? We asked our staff.
I think when Barea comes back, you'll see two things happen for sure: First, Quinn Cook (& the next 10-day guard who replaces him) will be permanently chained to the bench--or maybe Dallas will simply leave a roster spot open. Second, Yogi will see his minutes cut somewhat. Other than that, I think things mostly stay the same. I think Yogi starts, but Barea comes off the bench fairly early. I think Seth goes back to playing most of his minutes at the two. Same with Devin.
Honestly, I think the guard rotation is more complicated by Nerlens Noel potentially starting--and therefore moving Dirk, Barnes, and Wes back to their normal positions--complicates things more than Barea starting. How much time does Wes play at the 2? The more Wes plays as SG, I think the question becomes whose minutes get cut between Yogi and Devin Harris. Regardless, I think Barea, Curry, and Wes are the biggest minutes getters, with the remaining minutes divided up between Yogi and Devin.
This is all going to be predicated around Nerlens Noel and Dirk Nowitzki. Noel is bound to be the team's starting center soon, which will more than likely bump everyone down a peg. That means Harrison Barnes moves back to small forward, Wes Matthews to the 2 and whomever at point. If all goes according to plan, that should be Seth Curry, bumping Yogi Ferrell to the bench. You can't move Seth to the bench under any circumstance right now. I don't want to see those flames on his head go away. The one small silver lining in having so many guards is having two veterans ready in case a certain Rookie of the Month struggles. That will be the role J.J. Barea or Devin Harris play, with the other getting the bulk of the minutes as Wes' backup.
Or, if Dirk moves to the bench (which Rick Carlisle says is not a likely option), this is all a moot point. The best choice for Carlisle right now, which can backfire quickly, is making Seth the starting point guard with Yogi as his backup, and Barea and Harris splitting up minutes for the immediate future. In the offseason, figure it out all over again.
When Wes gets back to full health we're going to have a lineup problem. Noel is going to move into the starting lineup soon, as he should, and with Dirk at the four, Barnes at the three, and Wes at two, we have a problem at point guard. Seth Curry is playing too well to get bumped out of the starting lineup, but although he's molten magma on the offensive end, I'm not sure he has the handles, passing skill, or court-general mindset that a true point guard needs. In addition, the Mavs let Deron Williams go and signed Yogi Ferrell with (assumed) intention of letting him get a full trial run at point guard.
In essence, the problem is that our five best players at their positions (Noel, Dirk, Barnes, Wes, and Curry) might not add up to a cohesive unit when played together. My gut tells me that Carlisle will probably go with that lineup anyway and bring J.J. or Yogi off the bench quickly if problems arise, but maybe Curry will be able to command the offense capably from the point guard position, in which case I'll happily eat my words.
Barea started several games earlier this season, before he was injured, but I think he'll return to a bench role when he comes back. Yogi Ferrell has essentially cemented his role as the Mavs' starting point guard. He was just named Western Conference Rookie of the Month, after all. Plus, Carlisle has an affinity for playing Barea alongside Devin Harris with the second unit. I don't see him going away from that anytime soon as long as they remain healthy.
As for Curry and Matthews, who has missed a couple of games with a hip injury, their roles should remain the same. They'll be the team's starting wings. Curry's numbers as a starter are too good to even consider moving him around. And there is no way Wes goes to the bench. This will leave Quinn Cook the odd man out, but that's not a bad thing. While he's shown that he has a few tools that will help him become an NBA player, he hasn't consistently shown the ability to perform at the NBA level. At this rate, he's looking uphill at landing a second 10-day contract.