Fountain of Youth: Competition at 2 positions

Our weekly look at the Mavericks' young players.

The Mavericks' two young guys with French roots are going through difficult times. Sadly, third-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois remains home in Guadeloupe with his family after the unexpected death of his father last week. Prior to that, Beaubois was planted back on the bench since the return of Jason Kidd.

Beaubois is expected to return to town this week during the All-Star break and hopefully his state of mind will allow him to focus on basketball. It's an important month ahead f0r Dallas with a ton of games following the All-Star break. There's a heavy road slate, and Delonte West (fractured right finger) will remain sidelined for at least three more weeks.

Dominique Jones has picked up valuable minutes at point guard during Beaubois' absence and has shown relatively well. How coach Rick Carlisle uses his two young guards coming out of the All-Star break will be interesting. Beaubois has been the clear choice over Jones. Has Jones played well enough to change that?

Now, what has happened to Ian Mahinmi?

Since his 17-point, nine-rebound explosion in 29 minutes on Jan. 23 against Phoenix, the 6-foot-11 center has not played more than 22 minutes and in the last eight games he has not played more than 16 minutes. In the last four games, Mahinmi is averaging nine minutes, 2.5 points and 2.3 rebounds. He is 0-of-3 from the floor and 10-of-14 from the free throw line.

A big reason for Mahinmi's decreased time is obviously the fine play of youngster Brandan Wright, who is still often the third center off the bench, but at times plays more then Mahinmi and Brendan Haywood.

For Mahinmi, the recent downturn is disappointing considering the remarkable start he got of to, practically splitting the center minutes evenly with Haywood. Iit's become, as Carlisle calls it, a three-headed monster rotation, with Mahinmi often now being the third head.

Mahinmi has already played more minutes (560) in 31 games than he's played in any of his previous three seasons, but he says that's not a factor.

"I feel great," Mahinmi said. "I just have to continue working and continue to battle."