Devin Harris, Brandan Wright and Shane Larkin will all miss the season opener for the Dallas Mavericks due to injuries. All three are expected to play sizable roles for the team this season, and each player’s absence will be felt in different ways.
Most obviously, there will be a noticeable lack of depth until at least some of those players return. Jose Calderon and undrafted rookie Gal Mekel are the only healthy true point guards on the roster. Even though Mekel looks like he has the tools to be an effective player eventually, handing over the backup point guard reigns to someone so inexperienced is probably not Coach Rick Carlisle‘s original plan.
And without Wright, the Mavericks only have DeJuan Blair and Bernard James behind Samuel Dalembert to play center. Blair is more of a power forward, and James hasn’t done much in his limited playing time. Dirk Nowitzki will probably play some center during their absence, but he is not the best option to defend other teams’ centers, to say the least.
Even more than the depth problems, though, the Mavericks will miss what each player brings to the table. Harris may not be as spry as he once was, but he’s still one of the faster players in the entire league; and when hot he is one of the better shooters as well. Even more than that, though, he’s an above average defender, an area where this team may prove to be lacking.
Wright brings an explosive, athletic element to the game that no other Dallas player can. His high flying alley-oops get everyone in the building fired up. And that’s to say nothing of his fantastic pick-and-roll skills as the roll man.
Speaking of pick-and-roll, the Mavericks are eagerly awaiting the return of their first round pick, Shane Larkin. He was brought to Dallas because he was one of the most efficient pick-and-roll ballhandlers in all of college basketball. The Mavericks have Wright, as well as Nowitzki, who is one of the most unguardable players to ever set a pick. Larkin needs to get back as soon as possible to start building chemistry with the future Hall-of-Famer.
Unfortunately, none of these players will be ready for the season opener against the Atlanta Hawks. Wright could play as early as the second game, and Larkin is expected to start practicing within a week. There is still no word on when Harris will be back with the team. For Dallas’ sake, I hope they are all back on the court soon.