Three years ago, J.J. Barea was an indispensable part of the Dallas Mavericks’ win over the Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Finals—LeBron James and company simply had no answer for Barea’s whirling-dervish theatrics.
When Barea’s at his best, his low center of gravity and seamless changes of pace can drive opposing defenses bonkers.
When he’s at his worst, he’s trying to throw down a putback dunk and hurting his foot despite being listed at a very, very generous 6'0".
At least that’s the assessment Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman gave for why his bench spark plug ended up a bit hobbled after their 123-122 overtime win over Barea’s former team Wednesday night, according to The Associated Press' Jon Krawczynski:
Adelman said he thinks JJ hurt his foot because he wasn't used to falling that far after he almost dunked against Dallas— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) March 22, 2014
Now, there’s a reason NBA coaches don’t go to medical school—their knowledge of the human anatomy can typically be measured in pain scales and ice packs.
But after watching video of Barea’s fall, Adelman may have a point.
I mean, have we ever seen J.J. Barea jump that high? No, because apparently J.J. Barea has never seen J.J. Barea jump that high.
JJ on his dunk attempt: I was like what am I doin up here?— Jon Krawczynski (@APkrawczynski) March 22, 2014
You were giving hope to undersized point guards everywhere, J.J. That’s what you were doing.
Barea said he plans to give it a go during warm-ups and try to work the ankle out pregame. He and the training staff will make a decision from there. Right now he’s listed as probable. Adelman said Barea didn’t practice on Saturday.
At 5.5 games out of the Western Conference playoff picture, the Timberwolves are facing what’s looking like—in the wake of heightened expectations heading into the season—something of a lost year.
It’s been a similarly disappointing year in microcosm for the 29-year-old Barea, who has suffered statistical drop-offs almost across the board in his third season with the Timberwolves.
At this point, Adelman is looking for something—anything—to help Barea click. From Kent Youngblood of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
For much of the season Adelman has used Barea as the backup point guard for the second unit. But that group has struggled, with injuries to Chase Budinger to start the season and to center Ronny Turiaf twice during the season. It has also put a lot of pressure on Barea to be both the ballhandler and the scorer for a second unit that has been very up and down this season.
With Barea on Minnesota's docket only through next season, it'll be interesting to see whether the Timberwolves brass elects to shop him as an expiring contract. Perhaps on a team with either more minutes or touches to spare, Barea can once again emerge as a quirky-effective backup—and a consistent one to boot.
While we await word on whether his injury can be positively attributed to his 10-story fall, let me be the first to suggest out loud what everyone else must be thinking: J.J. Barea, 2015 Slam Dunk Contest favorite.