Player Profile: J.J. Barea

Player Profile: J.J. Barea

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Editor’s Note: Throughout the summer, will profile members of the 2012-13 team and take a look at how they performed as well as their preparations for next season. In Part VI highlights J.J. Barea, who for the second straight season provided an offensive burst of energy off the bench.

Whenever the Dallas Mavericks come through town, it’s a safe bet someone will ask Mavs coach Rick Carlisle about Wolves guard J.J. Barea—particularly when it comes to how the spunky 6-foot guard performed during Dallas’ championship run in 2011. And without fail, he praises Barea for his energy, his ability to hit the big shot and his athleticism that makes him—in his words—one of the top lane penetrators in the NBA.

And it’s those qualities the Wolves enjoy out of Barea each night he takes the court.

Barea is by far the most vocal player on the Wolves’ roster, and he brings energy through his words, body language and aggressiveness on the court. Each night, Barea brings the possibility of getting hot from 3-point range or finding his way to the basket when the team needs a spark off the bench.

And since he’s the only player on the 2012-13 roster with a championship ring, he has the experience to know how he can impact a game on a nightly basis—either through his own actions or helping motivate the team around him.

“He’s a guy who has accomplished something in this league, but a guy who not only talks it but can go out and do some things for himself,” assistant coach T.R. Dunn said last season. “And because of what he’s done, he’s got credibility with the guys. It’s not just some guy off the street talking. This guy was an integral part of a team that won a championship, and he did some things in those games. What he says matters. It means something.”

Barea took on an increased role with the Wolves over the past two seasons, averaging more minutes per game in 2011-12 and 2012-13 than he did during his five years in Dallas. He’s averaged 11.3 points per game in each of his seasons in Minnesota, which is a career-high, and he has averaged at least 4.0 assists per game in both seasons. He never had more than 3.9 per game in a season before joining the Wolves.

After battling injury in 2011-12, Barea did suffer a left mid-foot sprain early last season that kept him out of five games in November. But after he returned on Nov. 21, he missed just three games throughout the rest of the year.

Highlight of the Year

Barea’s best stretch of play in a game happened when it mattered most on the road against Denver on Jan. 3, a 101-97 win at the Pepsi Center. Barea knocked down a crucial 3-pointer with 1:54 to play that put the Wolves up 97-91, then connected with a scoop in the paint on the team’s next possession to make it 99-93. He iced the game with a free throw with less than three seconds on the clock that put the Wolves up by four. What’s most impressive about that particular victory is that it was one of three home losses Denver suffered during the regular season—the Nuggets went 38-3 at the Pepsi Center in 2012-13.

Top Performance of the Year

With the Wolves struggling on the road in late-March, Barea stepped up while visiting the Pistons at the Palace of Auburn Hills on March 26. He was on fire from the field, shooting 8-of-11 from the floor while connecting on 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range en route to 21 points in a 105-82 victory over the Pistons. Barea was the game’s leading scorer and produced those 21 points in 21 minutes.

Offseason Objectives

Barea said after the season he planned to head back to Puerto Rico and spend time playing with the Puerto Rican National team, and during that time he’ll likely work on all the conditioning and shooting that come with continuing to improve each offseason. Barea brings energy through his actions, his words and his relentless ability to drive to the basket. Continuing to get his body prepared for the upcoming season through conditioning—particularly as he prepares to enter his eighth NBA season, is important moving forward. He is incredibly active when he’s on the court—always driving to the basket and getting to the lane. And when it comes to helping the Wolves on the perimeter, Barea’s shot is extremely important. He led the team in 3-point makes and 3-point percentage last year, so his ability to connect from distance really sets the tone for how the team performs from the outside.

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