DALLAS -- To hear the Dallas Mavericks say it, Shane Larkin is real close to being the second coming of JJ Barea.
Following a whirlwind day Thursday during the NBA Draft, the Mavs pat themselves on the back after they wound up with Miami Hurricanes point guard Shane Larkin. The same Larkin whose father, Barry, is in the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.
The same Larkin who averaged 14.5 points and 4.6 assists while collecting ACC Player of the Year honors this past season. Larkin also was the ACC Tournament Most Valuable Player and a second-team All-American while leading the Hurricanes to the NCAA Sweet 16 and staking his claim as being one of the country's best point guards.
"One of the things that's really unique about him is from an analytic standpoint he's one of the best guys we've seen coming out of college shooting off the dribble,'' coach Rick Carlisle said. "And he can also get to places and get other guys involved, so I just think he's good and he's going to get better.
"I just think he's the kind of guy that fits in to today's game. And I think he's going to help other guys on our team be better players and I think he's going to keep getting better, too, because he's a worker.''
Carlisle said Larkin was the best college player at running the pick-and-roll offense this past season, It's a trait Barea perfected when he helped the Mavs win the 2011 NBA title.
Barea, though, bolted for the Minnesota Timberwolves via free agency in the offseason of 2011 when he failed to receive a suitable long-term contract from the Mavs. But in the 5-11, 176-pound Larkin, the Mavs believe they may have reincarnated Barea.
"I don't think that he and Barea are exact duplicates,'' Carlisle said. "We've missed, the last couple of years, the element that Barea brought to the game here.
"Being able to get to the rim, being able to get it going from three, the resourcefulness and some of those kinds of things. Shane's going to bring some of those things.''
The Mavs went through five point guards this past season and could have used someone with Barea's attacking, bulldog style in order for them to reach their goals. They may have found that player in Larkin.
"He's not going to be identical to Barea,'' Carlisle said of Larkin. "He'll be better in some areas, in other areas he won't be as good.
"But we like him and feel like he can compete for playing time right away.''
To get to Larkin, the Mavs traded the No. 13 pick to Boston for the No. 16 pick (Lucas Nogueria) and a pair of 2014 second-round pick. The Mavs then traded the draft rights of Nogueria, second-year point guard Jared Cunningham and the No. 44 pick to the Atlanta Hawks for the No. 18 pick, which turned out to be Larkin.
"We got our guy,'' said Donnie Nelson, the president of basketball operations. "A point guard who has a bright future.
"I would say coming in he's a third point guard fighting for a backup position. For us to get him where we did, we feel pretty good about that.''
The Mavs saved $374,500 under the salary cap by sliding from the No. 13 to the No. 18 slot. That's important because they're trying to come up with the four-year, $88 million max-out contract -- with a first-year slary of $20.51 million -- that it'll take to sign Los Angeles Laker center Dwight Howard when he becomes a free agent on Monday.
Now, the Mavs are only $2,737,280 short of reaching that goal.
"We actually got the guy who we wanted, where we wanted and saved a little money in the process,'' Nelson said. "He's got the ability to get in the paint and create, and also score.''
Ryan Blake, the senior director of NBA scouting operations, said Larkin was the best point guard in the NBA's recent combines in Chicago. The Mavs are hoping his performance there will transfer to the court this coming season.
"We think he can compete for playing time right away,'' Carlisle said. "We think he's going to help us.'
"He's been a winner. Let's face it, he has phenomenal bloodlines.''
The Mavs only hope those bloodlines will hekp them get back to the playoffs, which they missed this past season for the first time since 2000.
"This league now is a lot about playmakers and being able to make plays, to do things off the dribble, being able to score, get other guys involved, and have a feel for the game,'' Carlisle said. "Speed is important.
"He brings some of those dynamics and some of those characteristics and we think he's going to help us.''
-- Dwain Price
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