For about $2 million, the Dallas Mavericks have turned a key area of concern into an apparent strength. When J.J. Barea was offered nothing more than a one-year deal to return, sealing his fate to leave, the point guard position was suddenly down to a 38-year-old legend coming off his first championship followed by a string of question marks.
Rodrigue Beaubois was coming back, but any expectation for him to emerge as dependable backup point guard had to be submerged at least until the Mavs knew if the third-year former first-round draft pick could rediscover the level of play he displayed as a rookie mostly at shooting guard.
On Dec. 13, Dallas signed Delonte West, a true wild card in the sense that he was coming of an injury-riddled season and carried a bit of personal baggage.
One-third into the season, and West, earning the veteran's minimum of $854,389, and Beaubois, making $1.2 million, have given Dallas quite the boost at the point.
The Mavs knew they'd need it simply to help keep stay Kidd relatively rested through this 66-game grind. Little did they know that the ultra-durable Kidd would miss six games in January and more start to February with two separate injuries.
Nor could they have predicted that they'd be 6-0 with Kidd sidelined and really 7-0 if you count Friday's trouncing of the Utah Jazz when Kidd left barely two minutes into the game. The facts are that West, solid all season, and Beaubois, who has really come on of late, have helped Dallas to a 14-8 record with veterans Kidd, Nowitzki and Lamar Odom all playing well below their typical levels.
"We're holding the guys back." Kidd joked the other night.
West started for Kidd earlier in January when Kidd, who is averaging just 4.1 points and 5.1 assists, sat out four games with back spasms. West averaged 9.5 points, 5.3 assists and had 11 steals in those games, numbers that surpass his season averages of 8.4 points and 3.3 assists. Monday night in the blowout at Phoenix, West came off the bench behind Beaubois and dropped five 3-pointers and a season-high 25 points.
Beaubois has dished out seven assists in each of the last three games playing the point while averaging 14.7 points. His season averages continue to trend upward at 7.5 points and 2.4 assists -- of course, the majority of his minutes have come at shooting guard.
Defensively, both have also done the job. Coach Rick Carlisle has continually praised West, who has started at shooting guard for the majority of the season, as the defensive tone-setter. Beaubois took quick Spurs point guard Tony Parker out of the game on Sunday and totally flustered Devin Harris two nights earlier. The lanky, long-armed guard also has 15 blocks in the last seven games.