Commentary

Beaubois to battle Barea for playing time

Updated: December 11, 2009, 5:01 AM ET
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com

DALLAS -- Don't assume that Rodrigue Beaubois' recent, drastic reduction in playing time is proof that the rookie landed in coach Rick Carlisle's doghouse.

Carlisle is pleased with Beaubois' progress since the Mavs made a trade to acquire him with the 25th overall pick in the draft.

"He's taken such quantum leaps since June that it's not even funny," Carlisle said. "He's helped us win games."

The Mavs went 9-3 with the electrifying but raw 21-year-old guard filling in for Josh Howard in the starting lineup. But Beaubois suddenly has a hard time getting off the bench, playing a total of 12 seconds in the last two games.

Carlisle benched Beaubois, who is averaging 5.7 points on 52-percent shooting in 12.2 minutes per game, for Saturday's loss to the Atlanta Hawks in part because the coach was concerned with the starting lineups' recent production. Howard returned the next game, so minutes will be tough for Beaubois to earn.

Howard and Jason Terry will get the vast majority of minutes at shooting guard. Beaubois and J.J. Barea will battle for the scraps at shooting guard and to play about 15 minutes per night behind Jason Kidd at point guard.

"It's going to be competitive between Roddy and J.J. for minutes," Carlisle said. "That backup position is going to be a competitive position, and that's great. It's great for both of those guys, because it will make them better and it will make our team better."

Beaubois might be the Mavs' point guard of the future, but he's barely played that position in games this season. It's tough for a Western Conference contender to trust a kid who played in a lower-level European league last season to be the primary ball-handler and decision-maker on the floor.

Barea is a fourth-year veteran who proved last season that he can be a quality backup point guard. He earned the confidence of coaches and teammates.

"The advantage would definitely go to J.J. because he's been in the league and he's played in big games -- just the experience factor," Kidd said. "But that's going to push J.J., knowing that he has someone on his heels, and that gives the rook a little incentive to show coach, 'Hey, I deserve some minutes out there.' It's all right to have friendly competition."

Carlisle, who believes Beaubois will benefit greatly from his recent stretch as a starter, stressed that there will be occasions that the rookie can contribute even if he doesn't beat out Barea. For example, Beaubois could be asked to defend an ultra-quick point guard or get on the floor when Carlisle needs 3-point threats.

"From a situational standpoint, he's different than any other guy we've got," Carlisle said. "There will be times when he'll be the best guy we can put in there."

Beaubois, who spends hours a week working one-on-one with player development coach Monte Mathis, understands the deal. He's focused on consistent improvement, not how many minutes he plays.

"I have to keep working," Beaubois said. "That's the only thing to do. I'm going to work harder. I have to be ready when the opportunity comes."

That's how Beaubois can keep his coach happy with him.

Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPN Dallas. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.