Barea brings control, explosiveness off the bench

The Mavs offense wasn’t at its best last season when Dirk Nowitzki was on the floor. Or Chandler Parsons. Or Monta Ellis or Tyson Chandler or Rajon Rondo.

No, Dallas scored more efficiently with JJ Barea on the floor than it did with any other player on the roster. The Mavericks scored 109.4 points per 100 possessions when Barea, the architect of the second unit, took the floor. Only 17 qualified players league-wide had a team on-floor rating higher than Barea’s. For reference, only two teams in the league had offensive ratings than 109.4 (the Clippers and Warriors).

Unlike in recent campaigns, the 2014-15 Mavs second unit was extremely reliant on the point guard. During the 2013-14 season, for example, the second unit was less focused on one player’s abilities and more so on the whole group, with Devin Harris, Vince Carter, Dirk Nowitzki, and Brandan Wright sharing the bulk of the scoring load.

With Barea at the helm last season, however, the ball was in his hands the majority of the time while the second five worked. Considering the results, it’s hard to argue with the process. Barea’s teammates were able to convert at such an efficient clip last season off of his passes that it only made sense for him to carry the burden of playmaking almost by himself.

For example, 45.9 percent of Barea’s offensive possessions were spent as the pick-and-roll ball-handler, according to Synergy Sports. He ranked in the 66th percentile in scoring efficiency in those sets, an above-average mark but not necessarily an elite one. However, it’s what he was able to do aside from shoot that set him apart last season. Dallas shooters scored a whopping 1.151 points per possession off Barea passes out of the pick-and-roll, second-best in the NBA among players with at least 300 such possessions. (Below is a chart showing the top-five.) Only LeBron James’ teammates in Cleveland scored more efficiently from his passes. The Puerto Rican turned it over just 4.9 percent of the time when he passed out of a P&R, a better mark than players like James, Stephen Curry, Kyle Lowry, and Tony Parker.

PLAYER Possesions Points/Poss Team FG%
LeBron James 523 1.189 48.9
JJ Barea 324 1.151 48.6
Monta Ellis 524 1.134 47.6
Greivis Vasquez 377 1.133 50.6
Manu Ginobili 415 1.1133 48.9

The key to scoring efficiently is finding the right shot, and Barea seems to be able to do that pretty much every time down the floor, particularly when he passes the ball. The modern pick-and-roll has two desirable outcomes: a three-pointer or a layup. The Mavs guard hit the roll man last season 129 times, leading to 165 points. The 1.279 points per possession rollers scored off Barea dishes last season ranked first in the NBA among players with at least 100 such passes.

Dallas big men scored more efficiently on rolls last season than those on any other club in the NBA, so it’s no surprise that Barea ranked near or at the top. However, the balance between how much of that has to with the big men’s touch versus the point guard’s passing ability is an ongoing debate among fans and analysts alike in the league. Personally, I think it’s a pretty healthy balance of both, and in that regard it makes Barea’s accomplishments extremely respectable.

Barea Lobs it to Chandler

J.J. Barea lobs it up to Tyson Chandler for the alley-oop dunk.

There’s perhaps no backup point guard in the NBA who has better command off the bench than Barea. When he comes into the game, everything changes: pace, tempo, control, and, more often than not, momentum. He slows things down to a degree, running multiple pick-and-rolls to try finding the right angle to attack. And once he does, he’s difficult to stop: He’s small and quick, a bad combination for backup big men not accustomed to working against such players. Many notable backup 1s (Lou Williams, Isaiah Thomas, Aaron Brooks) are much more perimeter-oriented than Barea. They rely on threes and jump shots and play more like shooting guards in a point guard’s body. But the Mavs’ reserve is always working to get inside the paint; he scored more points per 48 minutes on drives than Monta Ellis and Dwyane Wade last season, per SportVU.

The Mavs second unit this season figures to feature Barea again. He’ll be surrounded by plenty of shooters, including Devin Harris, Justin Anderson, and others on the wing. While he’s shifty enough to work in tight spaces if he has to, Barea is especially dangerous in space because of his quickness, and when you can manufacture space by flooding the floor with shooting, that’s even better. Dallas spot-up shooters scored 1.047 points per possession off Barea dishes last season, 20th in the league among players with at least 100 possessions. That mark ranks better than Damian Lillard, Goran Dragic, and James Harden.

It’s clear that Barea brings first-team ability to the second unit. He runs the offense at such a high level that Dallas often scores in bunches when he plays. Bringing him back ensures that the second unit will always play under control and, more than likely, it will almost always outscore its opponent.

Mavericks re-sign guard Jose Juan Barea

DALLAS – The Dallas Mavericks announced today that they have re-signed guard Jose Juan Barea. Per team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Barea (6-0, 185), who began his NBA career with the Mavericks, returned to Dallas in 2014-15 after spending the previous three seasons with Minnesota. He averaged 7.5 points, 3.4 assists and 17.7 minutes in 77 games (10 starts) with Dallas during the 2014-15 campaign.

In 392 games (55 starts) with Dallas, Barea has averaged 7.2 points and 3.0 assists in 17.4 minutes. He has also reached the playoffs in each of his six seasons with the Mavericks, accruing averages of 8.1 points and 3.5 assists in 45 postseason games (nine starts). Barea helped lead the Mavericks to their first title in franchise history in 2011.

The nine-year veteran holds career averages of 8.2 points, 3.4 assists and 18.8 minutes in 586 games (69 starts) with Dallas and Minnesota. He has shot 79.9 percent from the foul line for his career.

The Mayaguez, Puerto Rico native went undrafted in the 2006 NBA Draft and was signed by Dallas as a rookie free agent on August 17, 2006. Barea attended Northeastern University where, as a senior, he averaged 21.0 points, 8.4 assists and 4.4 rebounds for the Huskies.

Point guard, defensive big man top Mavs’ offseason wishlist

DALLAS — Coming out of their first-round playoff series sweep in 2012 at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder, it was clear to the Dallas Mavericks’ front office that the team had to address two areas of need during the offseason.

After falling to the eventual Western Conference champions in four games, Mavericks president of basketball operations and GM Donnie Nelson made it clear that the team needed to add a perimeter player capable of engineering the offense while also creating shots for himself and others. Nelson also coveted a defensive big man capable of protecting the rim against the Kevin Durants and Russell Westbrooks of the world.

But, after failing to lure former All-Star point guard Deron Williams away from the Brooklyn Nets in the offseason during free agency and never adding a consistent defensive presence, the Mavericks (41-41) went into the 2012-13 season still lacking in both areas. They now head into a second straight summer needing to address their floor general position while also seeking a big man capable of providing the same defensive spark that former center Tyson Chandler added to the fold during the 2011 NBA championship run, attempting to improve a team that missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 years after breaking even with a .500 record.

“Look, we’ve been spoiled with guys like [Steve] Nash and Jason Kidd, and those are certainly big shoes to fill,” Nelson said after a multitude of point guards manned the position this season. “And I think, you know, the quarterback position is one that we’re going to look very, very hard at. We’ve always liked players that are veteran, players that are smart, and having the ability to raise our collective IQ is also something that’s important to us. And yes, we’re always into rim protectors and shot blockers. That certainly makes life a lot easier for everyone on the floor. But we’ve got six guys under contract. We’ve got three veterans and three young guys, and we’re in pretty short order going to try to address all of those available positions. … It’s free agency, it’s draft, it’s trade, and so we’ll turn over every rock in attempt to get where we need to be, which is not where we are right now.”

Looking to add talent around veteran leaders Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion and Vince Carter, the Mavericks will again head into the summer looking to attract prized free agents. They will also try to bring along rookies Jared Cunningham, Bernard James and Jae Crowder, hoping the trio is capable of playing bigger roles if called upon by Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle next season.

Ranking eighth in the league in scoring (101.1 ppg) and fifth in assists (23.2 apg) this season, the Dallas offense would likely only see improvement if the Mavs were about to add an elite-level floor general to boost a team that struggled with late-game execution. Meanwhile, the Dallas defense ranked just 27th in points allowed (101.7 ppg), making the need for a defensive catalyst a pressing concern as well.

Perhaps more importantly, however, the Mavs will have to fill expected holes in the lineup after finishing the season with nine players on expiring contracts. And with point guard and defensive center still high on the priority list, the Mavs head into this offseason well aware that they have plenty of areas to address in order to build a playoff contender this summer.

“You’d love to get a point guard that can score, get in the lane a little bit and create his own shot, but also a good passer, a guy that loves to compete on a high level and make his teammates better. I mean, all the good stuff you like to see in a point guard really,” Nowitzki said.

“Well, we’ve got to get better at every position if we can,” Carlisle added. “Personally, I’d like to have as many of these guys back as we could that fit, because the fewer new guys that we have next year the better it’s going to be from the beginning of training camp going forward to get the team functioning the way we want it to function. So, you know, those things will be evaluated. We had a lot of guys that did good things, particularly in the latter stage of the season, and in the summer those things will work themselves out and we’ll go from there. But we’re going to have some new guys on the team. We know that. We’re just not sure exactly who at this point.”