Column: Barea Shining For Puerto Rico A Good Sign For Wolves

Barea Shining For Puerto Rico A Good Sign For Wolves

On the final night of the regular season last April, a collection of Wolves players who hadn’t left the locker room just yet sat at their lockers a little longer chatting with media members. The main topic of discussion was what their plans were for the offseason.

J.J. Barea, always one of the most talkative quotes on the Wolves’ squad, said he’d be heading back to Puerto Rico. He’d practice with the national team and play for his country at the late summer 2013 FIBA Americas Championship. Always a sparkplug in Minnesota, Barea was asked if the Puerto Rico National Team was ready to handle his fiery aggressiveness.

“Me? I’m the most calm guy on the team,” Barea said.

All pause, as if to try and digest that thought.

“I know, right?” he said, smiling.

Barea is nothing if not a character that adds a lot of personality on this Timberwolves roster. He brings intensity and aggressiveness and 3-point shooting and passion to the basketball court, and all of the above led to him becoming one of the top players in his country, a NBA player and eventually an NBA champion. In less than a month, he’ll be back in Minnesota bringing all of the above to a Wolves team revamped to help fully complement his skills. The Timberwolves have a far deeper perimeter that provides better length defensively and more players able to hit from the outside—effectively taking a little less pressure off Barea coming off the bench to pick his spots and attack when the defense gives him the option.

And if he follows suit with how he’s played this summer, Minnesota fans should be in for a treat.

Barea is playing exceptional basketball for Puerto Rico. He won the Tuto Marchand Continental Cup Most Valuable Player Award in August while leading his team to a perfect 4-0 record and the tournament championship. Over that span, he averaged 18.3 points per game (second among all players in the tourney) and rallied off 23 points against Canada, 21 against Argentina and 19 against Brazil.

And as Puerto Rico became the first team at the FIBA Americas Championship in Caracas, Venezuela to secure a spot in next year’s FIBA World Cup tournament, Barea continues to shine. In that World Cup-clinching game against Venezuela on Saturday night, Barea dropped 30 points—including seven 3-pointers—and helped Puerto Rico come back from 22 down to steal an 86-85 contest in overtime.

He nailed one of those 3-pointers in the extra session, breaking an 81-81 tie and putting Puerto Rico in control.

Barea set social media on fire after that performance, particularly the Timberwolves’ Facebook page:

  • “Barea went reggie miller mode last night wat a game!!!!,” fan Luis Velez commented on Sunday.

  • “This guy has ice running thru his veins,” wrote Nelson Lopez, another fan.

  • When Barea’s at his best, that’s what he does. He brings 3-point shooting, fearlessness in the paint and tenacity in his every move. It’s why Barea’s comment about being the calmest guy on his national team was striking. He brings continuous energy every single game, and when he’s in the right position he is a devastating asset to a basketball club. Right now as he continues to shine for his native country, there’s no question he’s bringing that unquestionable intensity and drive every single night.

    With this newly re-structured Wolves roster, Barea will still be the primary player coming off the bench. He’ll give a complementary change of pace to Ricky Rubio’s style of play, and he’ll give you that opportunity on any given night to get hot from the perimeter.

    This summer, Barea showcased why he’s so beloved in his home country. His tenacious, passionate play is about to make its return to the Twin Cities. There’s no room for calm here. Look for Barea to bring it when he reports this fall.

    He wouldn’t have it any other way.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at