J.J. Barea will always have a special place in the hearts of the Dallas Mavericks fans. The Puerto Rican point guard spent eight years in Dallas and won the whole franchise over with his upbeat personality. So it was pretty hard for Mark Cuban to release Barea during last year’s training camp. Instead, the team looked for a younger wing player to fill their final roster spot for this season, which meant it was time for Barea to find a new home. So after an emotional farewell, J.J. and the Mavericks parted ways.
Since there wasn’t any interest in his services in the NBA, Barea went overseas and signed with Estudiantes in Spain. He needed some time to adapt to the European style of playing, but eventually, Barea settled in very nicely. His experience was needed in Estudiantes, and Barea showed that he can still play at a high level.
In 15 games since February, Barea averaged 12.3 points on 40.4% shooting from the floor and 32.4% from deep, adding 1.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 22 minutes. Not bad for a guy who’s going to turn 37 in June. In fact, he never averaged that kind of scoring numbers during his 11 NBA seasons. It shows that Barea could still help some teams in the NBA – he said that he wants to get back in the NBA.
And since he had a respectful and relatively long NBA career, Barea played with some of the best Dallas players during that time. When he was asked to name his ideal starting five, J.J. selected a great team. In the point guard spot, Barea picked the often overlooked Jason Kidd.
“When I was a little boy, he was one of my favorite players, and then I got the chance to share the locker room with him. He gave me confidence, and we won the title together. It was amazing to learn from him.”J.J. Barea, ACB
He chose one of the best players in the league for the shooting guard spot – Luka Dončić. Barea was Luka’s mentor when he arrived in Dallas and saw a rookie take the reins over from game 1.
“He has an amazing talent and he genuinely loves playing basketball. I had a great time with him during our three season together.”J.J. Barea, ACB
After picking Luka, Barea skipped the number three spot and immediately went on to the power forward position. If there was one spot everyone on the planet knew was locked, it was this one. The man, the myth, the legend – Dirk Nowitzki.
“He’s my favorite player, teammate and person.”J.J. Barea, ACB
Then, for his starting center, Barea picked Tyson Chandler. Also often overlooked, Chandler’s career path keeps him out of a lot of people’s minds. He played for 8 different teams, and that may imply Chandler was an average player. But ask anyone in Dallas – Chandler was a crucial piece in their title run.
“He’s a guy who always looked at the team first, he has an incredible spirit and he helps everyone on the team with advices.”J.J. Barea, ACB
Finally, the number three spot came, but J.J. couldn’t decide, so he picked out Shawn Marion and Predrag Stojaković as two candidates for the position. Obviously, if you need offense, you go with Peja; for defense, you go with Marion.
One thing stood out in Barea’s list. These are all great players, but for each one, JJ mentioned their character, spirit, and love for the game; how they impact the locker room and those around them. That’s why J.J. is so beloved in the league and probably has an assistant coach gig waiting for him in Dallas. Always a high character guy who puts the team ahead of the individual.