The Dallas Mavericks are expected to welcome back point guard Devin Harris to their lineup on Saturday. Harris was the Mavericks’ No. 5 overall selection in the 2005 draft and played for Dallas until the 2007-08 season. The Mavericks initially signed Harris to a three-year deal in the offseason, but his deal was shortened to one year once it was revealed that he had a toe injury that would require surgery.
Harris was signed to provide the Mavericks with a quality veteran presence with the capability of playing the backup point guard and shooting guard position. Harris played well for the Atlanta Hawks during the 2012-13 season. Harris averaged 9.9 points and 3.4 assists while playing both guard positions.
The Mavericks were hopeful that Harris’ toe injury would keep him out until early December but he suffered a setback that cost him roughly another month. The Mavericks are in need of an experienced, veteran presence to spell starting point guard Jose Calderon.
To this point in the season, the Mavericks have been forced to rely on rookies Shane Larkin and Gal Mekel when Jose Calderon is not on the court. Mekel was making the adjustment from the Israeli league and he has struggled to adapt to playing at the NBA level. Harris is returning to the Mavs at an opportune time as Mekel was forced to undergo surgery on a torn meniscus in his right knee. Mekel underwent surgery on Friday and he is expected to be out four to six weeks.
Larkin had to play in the regular season without the benefit of the summer league and the preseason as he was recovering from a broken ankle. Larkin has played well at times and he is slowly improving but playing point guard at the NBA level for the first time is typically a challenge for first-year players.
The Mavericks have played in 12 games determined by five points or less. To date the Mavericks are 7-5 in those games. Replacing Larkin and Mekel’s minutes with Harris’ should result in an increase in offensive productivity and a decrease in turnovers. Harris has a career PER of 17.1 while rookie Shane Larkin’s PER currently sits at 6.7. (What is PER?)
Harris may not initially put up impressive numbers as he is integrated into the Mavericks lineup, but his presence improves the Mavericks depth and versatility.
The Mavericks are one of many teams fighting for a playoff spot in the Western Conference and Harris’ ability could be a determining factor in a number of close games. Dallas head coach Rick Carlisle is known for the getting the best out of the lineup that he has to work with, and he will finally enjoy the full complement of the 2013-14 roster.