J.J. Barea seeks balance as point guard

J.J. Barea will never be a pure point guard. But the Mavs believe he can be a reliable backup for Jason Kidd.

That opinion isn’t based on the preseason opener, when No. 1 overall pick John Wall dominated the third quarter against Barea to key the Wizards’ win. It’s based on the progress that Barea has made while contributing to a playoff team the last two seasons.

“He’s just got to keep learning the game,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I think he’s made great strides in the two years that I’ve been here. His awareness level gets gradually better.”

Barea, who is generously listed at 6-foot, is really an extremely undersized shooting guard. His biggest strength is his ability to create his own shot.

But a big part of a point guard’s job is to get his teammates good looks. Barea has tried to pattern parts of his game after Kidd’s, particularly the art of passing. That means knowing exactly when and where the other Mavs like to get the ball.

Barea is trying to find the balance between being himself and playing like a traditional point guard.

“When I’m coming off the bench, we need energy and aggressiveness,” Barea said. “We don’t have a lot of people that attack the paint. I’m here because they like what I do, so I’ve got to stay with my game, but I’ve also got to get better at other things.”