Positions of need entering draft: backcourt depth

DALLAS — Despite the emergence of new addition Monta Ellis this season as a sidekick and No. 2 scorer to 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks could still look for help in the backcourt during Thursday’s NBA Draft.

With Ellis and starting point guard Jose Calderon inked to multi-year contracts, the Mavericks could turn their attention to adding depth at the guard positions this offseason. And as veteran combo guard Devin Harris enters free agency on July 1, the Mavs may need to use one of their two second-round picks in the draft to add a Day 1 contributor in the backcourt.

“I think in the new game to have guys that can get in the paint and create is extremely important, especially given the dynamic of the Mavericks,” team president of basketball operations and GM Donnie Nelson said when asked what areas the squad needs to address this summer.

Getting a boost from last year’s first-round pick, Shane Larkin, the Mavs would also benefit front Harris’ versatility and ability to penetrate into the lane. However, as Nowitzki admits, the Mavericks could still look to add another playmaker and spot-up shooter in the backcourt this offseason as the Dallas squad tries build on a 49-33 campaign and first-round playoff exit to the eventual champion San Antonio Spurs in seven games.

“Well, you know, you can always get better,” Nowitzki said. “You can always get more athletic in every position. You never have enough shooters on your team and you can add another playmaker.”

Looking for the cat-quick Larkin to benefit from a summer of conditioning and training before entering Year 2, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle hopes to take the court with plenty of speed in the backcourt next season. The coach may also be eying another player capable of creating for teammates, looking to boost a lethal offensive attack that already finished eighth in points per game at 104.8 an outing and sixth in assists at 23.6 a contest last season.

And while entering the draft armed with the 34th and 51st overall selections, it would not come as a surprise if the Mavericks addressed the need for backcourt depth.

“We need speed on this team,” Carlisle confessed during the season. “We need playmaking ability, we need lane penetration, we need defense and we need scoring.”

He added: “Speed is a big factor in this league now. That’s why guys like Harris and Larkin and Ellis are such important guys. … So, we’ll look at it and see.”