Problem 1: How Low Can JJB Go? For all the NB number-crunching that goes on, we don't know of a website that just has raw plus/minus available so we can peruse "the worst in the league.'' (The NBA itself seems to prefer to celebrate "bests.'')
But Basketballvalue.com has adjusted plus/minus, and their "1 year unadjusted overall rtg," which is roughly equivalent to raw plus/minus. That "one-year unadjusted number'' is the points-per-possessions your team scores on offense, and gives up on defense when you're on the court, then the overall is the net of that.
Going into Monday's 89-87 win over the Celtics, JJ Barea didn't appear on that list. But not because he hasn't been bad enough; he didn't appear on the list because that list required 92 minutes of participation to quality, and Barea had just 88 minutes.
Going into that game, Barea was the worst plus/minus guy on the Mavs.
Are you getting this? This isn't JJB Bashing; this is science!
JB's plus/minus per 200 possessions (the approximate average NBA game) would've been in contention as the worst in the NBA if he had three more minutes played. He had a -50.27, which was a Dallas team-worst, and again, maybe an NBA-worst.
When JJB was on the court though five games, the Mavs were outscored by -27.64 per 200 possessions. When he is off the court, the Mavs outscore the opponent by +22.63 per 200 possessions.
We can make all sorts of arguments in support of JJB and we can make all sorts of arguments against the overuse of pocket-protectors to help judge basketball players.
But -50.27? Don't assign me the job of being the debate student in charge of argue against that.
It was nice to see him pop back on the radar Monday with 11 points, each of them momentum-grabbers … a trey to end a quarter, a teardrop over KG … But the problem isn't solved by one game.
And again, just to make sure we understand each other, to make sure we all acknowledge that it is a problem, I steer you to Dirk Nowitzki, Skipper to Barea's Gilligan, who tweeted a ribbing on Tuesday:
"Tough battle last night,'' Dirk wrote. "Big win. There was even a JJ Barea sighting! Ha!''
Problem 2: Fourth-quarter foibles . I'm not caught up in Dallas' so-called "predictability on offense.'' Predictability isn't how a Jason Kidd-led team can commit eight or nine turnovers in two different fourth quarters in the span of four games, which Dallas had done. (With six more in the fourth against Boston.) Predictability doesn't explain scoring just 13 points in the fourth quarter at home on Saturday against Denver to seal a loss of a game that was tied after three. Predictability is a lame excuse even for Nowitzki, who in that fourth quarter shot 0-of-4 from the floor and coughed up five of his seven turnovers.
How can "predictability'' really be the problem when Dallas played the exact same Denver team four days earlier and won, with The UberMan scoring
35? If Dallas was "predictable'' on Saturday that means Dallas was "predictable'' the Wednesday before, right?
Nah. It's about execution. And about switching gears – which the Mavs did smartly on Monday against Boston, going to "flow'' instead of set plays to eliminate the "predictable'' issue … and the "predictable'' alibi.
This isn't a great half-court team, we know that. And I scream as loudly as anybody about how Roddy B is going to bring a fresh and unpredictable dimension to the offense. But now is now. Tonight is a game in Memphis. In their home loss to these Grizzlies, Dallas gave the game away. Lots of turnovers. Only 15 points.
"We've got to do a better job of finishing games in the fourth," coach Rick Carlisle said.
Problem 3: Where is Big Wood? I pointed out the other day that is four of the Mavs' first five games, Brendan Haywood managed to score two points or fewer. Against Boston he was slightly more impactful (five points), but doggone it. …when the Mavs' backup center is Brendan Haywood and the Celtics' backup center is some person named "Semih Erden,'' shouldn't The Best Center The Mavs Ever Had be vastly superior than the Semih Erden? Shouldn't a team almost be able to win a game singularly based on Brendan Haywood crushing Semih Erden?
For the moment, the Mavs found their solution to whatever ails Big Wood: While Tyson Chandler dominated Boston with his double-double, Big Wood was reduced to 15 minutes … or roughly the same amount of burn earned in that game by the likes of DeShawn Stevenson, Marquis Daniels and yes, Semih Erden.
Is that what this has come to? The solution to playing Big Wood is to not play him?
Like I say, it's not a cure … but it's some medicine to ease the pain.