The Minnesota Timberwolves welcomed former Dallas Mavericks guard, J.J. Barea, on Wednesday afternoon. The undersized Barea joins a team loaded with undersized power forwards, and two other point guards. At first glance, this move is somewhat of a head-scratcher. The team might have been better served pursuing players that actually fit a team need, such as high scoring shooting guard Jamal Crawford. Crawford is still on the market, and up until recently, was said to have been getting interest from the Timberwolves (but never received an offer). The Timberwolves history at shooting guard is about as bad as their history of centers, so it’s not insane to say Crawford could have easily been the best shooting guard in team history.
Let’s focus on the positive. Barea brings championship experience (started for the Mavericks in the NBA Finals last year) and the ability to not turn the ball over. The latter of the two might actually be more important if you can believe it. Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman has been rumored to be mind-blown at the way the team handles the ball. Barea, from Puerto Rico, can speak Spanish, and this might actually help Ricky Rubio’s adjustment to Minnesota go a little more smoothly. One player that I believe Rubio compares to is Jason Kidd. They are both 6’4 point guards who pass the ball exceptionally well, and have a knack for getting steals. The Mavericks had a lot of success last year playing Rubio and Barea on the court at the same time, despite the obvious undersized situation that it creates. The Timberwolves may be looking to mimic this combination a little bit. The Timberwolves backcourt may be a bit undersized this year, but the addition of Barea will help the team in terms of attitude and ball control. Crawford may have brought a more dynamic scoring bunch, but I hesitate to question David Kahn’s maneuvers of late. Let’s just let his genius take us on this joy ride.
The undersized backcourt combined with the Timberwolves situation in the front court will force the Timberwolves to play small ball. And that’s the way Adelman wants it. The Timberwolves Top 4 players in the frontcourt are no doubt Kevin Love, Michael Beasley, Anthony Randolph, and rookie Derrick Williams. Sorry Darko, it’s not you. All four of those players have a natural position of power forward. But, all four of those players can play multiple positions. Love and Randolph can play power forward and center. Beasley and Williams play more of the small forward and power forward positions. Much has been speculated about what will be done with the Beasley and Williams glut. Both seem to be deserving of a lot of playing time, but Williams position has yet to be determined. Williams has said to be bigger than some expected. Rumor has it, in training camp Williams has struggled to keep up with Beasley on the defensive end.
One thing that will help this team with so many point guards and undersized power forwards is that they can all handle the ball. This may be a good match with Adelman, as his teams have historically thrived with ball handlers. “The way we’re handling the ball, I need ball-handlers on the floor, guys who can make plays,” Adelman said. “So we’re going to try. We’re going to get hurt, but that’s my plan.”