As J.J. Barea approaches his ninth season with the Dallas Mavericks, it’s unclear what sort of role he will have with this team as it develops and grows with its young core — including new point guard Dennis Smith Jr.
Last season Barea played in 35 games for the Mavs and started six of those. He averaged 10.9 points, 5.5 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game which is a decent set of numbers for the backup point guard.
Will J.J. have a spot on a team that features one of the best young point guards in this year’s draft at the helm? It’s been a number of seasons since the Mavericks have had a significant spark at point guard, and Barea has always filled a pretty important role in the rotation in these teams.
Now with the likes of Dennis Smith Jr, Yogi Ferrell, Seth Curry and Devin Harris all playing the one and two spot, it will be interesting to see how J.J. fits in and how Rick Carlisle uses him amongst these guys.
A positive for J.J. is that Carlisle does often like to play a three guard lineup and we’ve seen him rely on Barea for long stretches in the past. The biggest question probably lies more within how well the other guards play as to how much of a role he will have with the team.
Best Case Scenario
Barea definitely has an x-factor when it comes to playing for the Mavs. When he is playing well, the pick and roll combination with him and Dirk is deadly. We’ve seen those two close out and win games time and time again when J.J. is hitting his outside shots and finding Dirk open after he comes off the screen.
So absolute best case, Barea will still be useful in a few lineups that Rick throws out there, and won’t be any sort of hindrance to Dennis Smith Jr.’s development.
But also there’s this...
This scenario could ruffle the feathers of some die-hard J.J. fans, but.. I think the other best case scenario involving Barea is one where he plays a serviceable role for the Mavs, and gets noticed midway through the season by another team who needs him.
We see it happen time and time again, where a team gets plagued by the injury bug and is forced to give up more than they usually would for a point guard who can fill a need. If J.J. can be that guy for someone else, the Mavs would not only get another asset, but would shed his contract for next offseason.
Worst Case Scenario
Barring the obvious season ending injury, the worst thing for the Mavs would be if the development of the younger players is stunted by J.J. getting too much time on the court. Coach Carlisle has been known to favor veterans, and perhaps Dennis Smith Jr. just can’t get going and Rick decides to roll with Barea more.
Something tells me this isn’t likely this time around, as the level of rookies in the past haven’t been anywhere near that of what we’ve been gifted by the basketball gods, but we have to consider this as a possibility as the Mavs continue to try to be competitive in Dirk’s final year(s).