Checklist for No. 18 Draft Pick Shane Larkin to Thrive with Dallas Mavericks

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Checklist for No. 18 Draft Pick Shane Larkin to Thrive with Dallas Mavericks
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After a considerable amount of moving and shaking on draft night, the Dallas Mavericks ended up with former Miami (Florida) standout Shane Larkin as their first-round pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

For a Mavericks team that was in need of a point guard (at least at the time), the move seemed to make a lot of sense. 

Larkin showed tremendous heart and competitiveness at Miami and turned himself into one of the real stars of the college game while playing on a resurgent Hurricanes squad. He will now have an opportunity to try to earn some minutes in his rookie season and make an impact on a Mavericks squad desperate for dynamic playmakers.

The son of Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, the 5'11'' guard certainly has the gene pool to become a successful pro athlete.

There are several steps Larkin must take in his rookie season to ensure he is making the most of his first year as an NBA player.

 

Learn from Veterans

For starters, Larkin needs to realize that he has an opportunity to grow as a player this year, even if he doesn't make a huge impact right away.

After drafting Larkin, the Mavericks went out and signed not one, not two, but three other point guards that will compete with Larkin for minutes next year.

First, the Mavericks were able to land former Wichita State and Israeli league star Gal Mekel.  

Next, Dallas reached an agreement with veteran point guard Jose Calderon, who will likely be the team's starting point guard.

Finally, Dallas brought back former Mavs starting point guard Devin Harris, although Harris may get more time at shooting guard, where he split minutes last year with the Atlanta Hawks.

Although his initial reaction may be disappointment now that there are three more experienced players potentially ahead of him on the depth chart, Larkin has to look at this as an opportunity. 

Both Calderon and Harris have had lengthy successful careers as NBA point guards, and Larkin and Mekel would be wise to pick up as many tricks of the trade from them as they can.

Calderon is an outstanding passer who has ranked in the top 15 in assists each of the past six seasons. The former Toronto Raptor and Detroit Piston is also extremely proficient at running the pick-and-roll. These are two essential skills that Larkin must master to be a successful lead guard.

Harris, meanwhile, can pass along some tips and tricks on the defensive end. The 30-year-old Harris is an excellent defensive point guard. Although he is four inches taller than Larkin, he is used to guarding bigger NBA players since he often plays the opposing team's shooting guards on defense.

If Larkin can learn to build relationships with the veterans while simultaneously competing with them for playing time, it would be extremely valuable for him.

 

Be Patient

At the same time, Larkin has to realize that he may not be seeing the court much in 2013-14.

Although he was considered to be one of the top point guards in this year's draft, the 2013 draft class was one of the weakest in recent memory, and it is unlikely that many players picked out of the lottery will be ready to play right away.

Larkin has the potential to be a big-time scorer in the NBA down the road. Larkin's intangibles are hard to question, which is partially why he was taken in the first round. In addition, he is an excellent shooter.

Having said that, there is still a long way to go for Larkin to be able to compete consistently in the NBA.

He has to learn how to deal with bigger, stronger guards on defense, adjust to the speed of the NBA game and learn how to efficiently run an offense. Rick Carlisle will put him in a position to succeed, but considering his inexperience and the players in front of him, Larkin may not be playing in every Mavs game this season.

It is even possible that Larkin could end up in the D-League at some point during the year. 

If that does happen, all Larkin can do is take advantage of the opportunities he is given to show his coaches and teammates that he is ready to play.

It's possible that those opportunities may not come about many times this year, but if Larkin continues to improve his game, he should be ready when his name is called.

 

Use His Quickness to His Advantage

One of Larkin's best attributes is his supreme quickness and agility. 

It's well-documented how undersized Larkin is, but there are several players who are around six feet tall that are proving that the little guy can still make a big impact in the NBA.

Ty Lawson, Chris Paul and Nate Robinson are just some of the names that come to mind of NBA point guards who are six feet and under and still putting up big numbers.

The common factor in all those players is that they compensate for their lack of size with their quickness, something Larkin will also be able to do. 

All three of those players and most other small guards in the NBA have the ability to get past their defenders with their speed and then use floaters or pull-up jumpers to score.

Larkin is blazingly fast, which will help him in the pick-and-roll, in the fast break and with taking his man off the dribble.

Although Larkin may be only 5'11'', once he figures out how to effectively utilize his speed, his size will become less and less of a factor on the offensive end. 

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