Inside Report: Barea turning heads at the Worlds
Though he stands modestly at an even 6-feet tall -- perhaps with two pairs of socks and high-top sneakers -- Dallas Mavericks guard J.J. Barea is sending a much bigger message to the rest of the basketball world this offseason.
While basketball fans stateside have been more concerned with Team USA's routs of Croatia and Slovenia in its first two games of the FIBA World Championship being held in Istanbul, Turkey, Barea has served notice to the other 23 countries competing in the international tournament, as well as the NBA, that he is much more than what he appears.
Despite two losses for his Puerto Rican team to open group play, Barea has shined. Having the opportunity to represent his native land while working on his game is the opportunity of a lifetime for Barea. In the process, he has given Mavericks fans something to look forward to once he returns to Dallas for the team's training camp which starts on Sept. 28.
"I love to play for Puerto Rico," Barea said when the Mavericks' playoff run last season came to an end in April. "We're going to have a long summer, so I have time to rest, I have time to work out and I have time to play."
Barea has averaged 22.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists through two games. His scoring average ranks fifth among all players, after having to pick up the slack with backcourt mate and Miami Heat guard Carlos Arroyo out with a left quad injury.
Seeing the 26-year-old Barea play well is no surprise to Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. The head coach only hopes that Barea's hot play in international basketball translates to the upcoming NBA season.
"To be a big part of an international tournament is a really big time thing," Carlisle said. "(After the World Championship) we've got to narrow our focus to the beginning of training camp and get everybody ready for that."
Though it isn't the stiff competition that Barea will face in the Association, the Puerto Rican squad's run-and-gun, fast-breaking style resembles the uptempo Mavericks' offense. Barea's ability to weave in and out of the lane has certainly translated at times to the pro game, including his 14-point effort in Game 3 of the Mavericks' opening round playoff series with the San Antonio Spurs.
Though the Mavericks fell, 94-90, in that game, the four-year veteran earned Carlisle's trust in big game situations.
"I was just going with a group that was going good. We needed penetration. (Barea) made good things happen. Offensively and defensively, he was active. He helped us when he was out there," Carlisle said after the loss.
The undersized guard also had Spurs coach Gregg Popovich scratching his head.
"He can penetrate, score or get the ball to someone for a three. He was really good (in Game 3)," Popovich said of Barea's play.
Soon Popovich may not be alone. With the numbers that Barea is putting up thus far in the Worlds, opposing NBA squads may be further puzzled when the young guard is on the floor in the 2010-11 season.
Stay connected with Dallas Mavericks inside reporter Earl K. Sneed by clicking "like" on his Facebook page or by following him on Twitter. Got a question for EKS? Send your question, along with your first name, last initial, city and state with the subject line "Ask EKS" to email@example.com, and you could be published on Mavsfastbreak.com, the Mavericks' new official blog site.
The NBA and the Dallas Mavericks have announced the full schedule for the 2010-11 season. Mavericks season tickets, partial plans and discounted Platinum Club level suites are on sale now. Again this season, the Mavs will offer over 4,300 tickets priced at $15 or less for all home games. Likewise, the Mavericks have several ticket plans and suite packages at various prices designed to fit all needs. Mavs group tickets will go on sale the week of Aug. 23. Call (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or visit Mavs.com today to get in on the excitement of Mavs basketball!