Positions of need entering draft: perimeter or interior defenders

DALLAS — Be it on the perimeter or at the rim, the Dallas Mavericks could look for some help on the defensive side of the ball during Thursday’s NBA Draft.

With their top perimeter defenders, Shawn Marion and Devin Harris, both set to enter free agency on July 1, the Mavericks could seek help with the 34th and 51st overall selections in the draft. The Mavs could also look to fortify their interior, adding a rim-protecting big man to assist starting center Samuel Dalembert inside.

“We don’t have a bunch of individual stoppers,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle confessed during a season in which Dallas ranked 20th in the league while allowing 102.4 points a game and 22nd with a 108.7 defensive rating.

He added: “We’ve got Marion, who to me is perennial all-defense, even though he never gets it. And we’ve got [Samuel] Dalembert, who is one of the best rim protectors. Then, on the rest of the team there’s no guys on paper that you’d say is an NBA stopper. We have to do it by showing a crowd, bringing a lot of help and by being really tied together.”

Adding nine new faces last offseason via the draft and free agency, the Mavericks struggled to gain continuity on the defensive end during the 2013-14 campaign. The Mavs’ front office will now try to keep this season’s team intact, looking to form more of a defensive identity with a returning core.

However, with backup big man DeJuan Blair also set to hit the open market on July 1, the Mavs could look to integrate a young interior defender to strengthen their bench. The team could also attempt to add a lockdown defender on the perimeter, giving them some insurance should they be unable to keep Marion or Harris in free agency.

“You know, defensively, we’ll be better next year,” Carlisle vowed. “You know, again, I thought nine new guys was a challenging thing. The way Dalembert finished the season the last two months was really encouraging for next year, and yes, that’s another reason why Marion is important. And I think if we can get Devin Harris back next year and have him from start to finish, he’s one of our better defenders as well. So, we’ll keep working in that area and it will be a priority for us.”