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Harrison Barnes Off to Roaring Start in Big D

Richard W. Rodriguez/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

Well, cross the Dallas Mavericks off the list of winless teams in the NBA after the Mavs beat the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime at American Airlines Center on Sunday.

It’s a win that Dallas (1-5) needed desperately, especially since the Mavs play their next four away from home, hitting the Staples Center hardwood on Tuesday to face the Lakers and finishing out the back-to-back with a trip to the Bay Area to face the Warriors on Wednesday night.

Even with the Bucks committing 27 turnovers–an appalling total to say the least–Harrison Barnes was the unquestioned star of the show on Sunday, setting a new career-high with 34 points.

JJ Barea also more than did his part to help the Mavs to victory. So far this season, HB and JJ have made an effective one-two punch for the Mavs.

And Dallas has needed every bit of those contributions, especially with franchise icon Dirk Nowitzki now sidelined at least a week with an Achilles injury, an ailment which some speculate will keep him off the floor much longer than that.

The Mavs were also without new big man Andrew Bogut in Friday’s loss to Portland as Bogut missed the game due to personal reasons.

Bogut was back patrolling the paint on Sunday. But Dallas was now without Deron Williams, who was sidelined with a calf injury.

When Barnes signed that four-year, $94 million deal over the summer to come to Dallas, everyone knew the expectations would be high for HB, especially since he was the Mavs’ marquee addition this summer, along with fellow ex-Warrior Bogut, who was acquired in a trade.

And thus far, Barnes has not disappointed. After not shooting the ball well during the preseason, he has turned that form totally in the other direction and is averaging 20.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 0.7 assists through six games.

His strong start isn’t exactly a new trend for the Iowa native. For his short career, Barnes is averaging 13.3/6.3/1.3 in October, a sample size which spans eight games.

Barnes’ numbers are equally strong in November, which is the first full month of the regular season. In 59 career games in November, HB is averaging 12.7 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

However, after that, his numbers start to drop more than a bit. In December, a sample size of 46 games, Barnes is averaging 9.5 and 4.8. Those averages drop to 8.9 and 4.3 in January, a 59-game sample.

In February, those numbers are on the uptick to 10.3 and 4.0 over 44 games. Barnes’ averages for March (9.3, 4.7 over 65 games) and April (10.6, 5.1 over 32 games) start ticking upward.

But what exactly can we extrapolate from these career trends? Well, probably nothing. Barnes was in a much different situation in Golden State as one of a number of guys who could score the ball than what he’s currently in with the Mavs.

He has an aging lineup around him, including  Nowitzki, who will turn 38 this season and Williams, who is only 32 but has battled injuries over the past few seasons and has a lot of tread on his tires.

Besides Barea, who is also off to a strong start with averages of 17.2, 5.2 assists and 3.5 boards per game, Wesley Matthews, who had his first normal offseason after having Achilles surgery a year ago spring, is also off to a solid start (13.2, 2.7, 1.8), numbers which are right around No. 23’s career averages.

So, the burning question is, can Barnes keep this up? More than likely, the answer is no because right now the sample size is rather small and given his career numbers, HB will more than likely start trending in that direction.

However, there is something to be said for him being with a team where he is now one of the primary offensive players. Barnes has had a lot of new responsibility heaped on his young shoulders and thus far, he has handled such an uptick in terms of role with the poise of a savvy veteran.

But if those around him, namely Nowitzki and Williams can’t stay healthy, then HB’s first season in Dallas could prove to be a very eventful one. Still, in a season where the Mavs have gotten off to a dreadful start, one which even the most optimistic of Dallas fans didn’t foresee, it’s been good to see the Mavs’ marquee signing this offseason more than carry the load thus far.

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