DALLAS — He was a key ingredient to last season’s success during his second stint with the Dallas Mavericks. Now, after a summer of moves by the team’s front office, combo guard Devin Harris says the Mavericks are poised for a deep run into the playoffs.
Joining SiriusXM NBA Radio last Friday, Harris couldn’t contain his excitement for the upcoming season. Harris also made it clear that he feels the Mavericks are better positioned this season to make a run at the NBA championship thanks to upgrades down the roster this offseason.
“We definitely think we got better,” Harris proclaimed. “Obviously, we got a little bit younger with Chandler [Parsons]. I think we got better defensively by adding Tyson Chandler. We’re deeper at the point guard position than we were a year ago with Jameer [Nelson], myself and Raymond Felton, a lot of veteran guys, and I think we’re deeper. I think with some of the veterans we added, like Richard Jefferson, we’re poised to go deeper than we did last year, and I’m excited about the team that we’re trying to put together.”
Last season, Harris missed the first 41 games while rehabbing from toe surgery, leading Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to turn to untested rookie point guards Gal Mekel and Shane Larkin to back up starting floor general Jose Calderon. But, when Harris returned to the floor, he quickly reminded Mavs fans of what he displayed during his first 3 1/2 seasons in the league, when the former Wisconsin standout and fifth pick in the 2004 draft showcased plenty of promise prior to being dealt in the trade for Jason Kidd.
Harris averaged 7.9 points and 4.5 assists in his 40 outings last season, providing stability behind Calderon. The 10-year veteran then upped that production during the Mavs’ first-round playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 11.4 points and 3.9 assists to help push the eventual champions to seven games.
And after seeing how close the Mavs were to defeating the league’s best team a season ago, Harris admits that he’s excited for the chance to see how well the new-look squad stacks up to the defending champs. Harris won’t have to wait long, however, as the Mavericks open the regular season in San Antonio when the Spurs are awarded their championship rings on Oct. 28 in a nationally-televised game on TNT.
“I like to think that we woke them up,” Harris said when asked what he took away from giving the Spurs their toughest test en route to the title. “I mean, they’re a good team regardless. Obviously, they struggled a little bit in our series but really found their game after our seven-game series. But, obviously, we still lost in the first round to a team I think we should have beat. I mean, you’ve got to take it with a grain of salt. We’re definitely moving forward as a team and as an organization, but we’d like to finish what we started in that sense and finish that series the way we wanted to finish it.
“I don’t have a problem being in San Antonio,” he added while foreshadowing the season opener. “I’m kind of looking forward to it, especially because it’s a team that we have history with. And it’s a little bit of added motivation, watching them get their rings against us and knowing that we played them so close. And so I’m actually looking forward to Opening Night.”