Since acquiring point guard Shane Larkin on draft day Thursday, the Dallas Mavericks have repeatedly pointed out that he compares favorably to J.J. Barea, the ex-Mavericks playmaker who is now with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Larkin, though, believes he compares most favorably to Denver Nuggets point guard Ty Lawson.
“J.J. was a great player and he was a pivotal part when [the Mavericks] won the championship [in 2011],” Larkin said during a Monday afternoon conference call. “I would say that comparison is based more on size.
“But he’s a great player, so if I turn out to be a player like him, I would be a great player in the league. But I see myself more as a Ty Lawson-type of player, just somebody who can lead a team and just go out there every single night and make an impact on the game with my speed and quickness and use that to my advantage. I see Ty Lawson do that every single night out as a starter, and I think that’s something I can eventually be in the league.”
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The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Lawson left North Carolina after his junior season in 2009, when he averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 assists and 2.1 steals while leading the Tar Heels to the national championship. That season he also was the ACC Player of the Year, a second-team All-American and was drafted No. 18 overall by the Timberwolves before his draft rights were traded to the Nuggets.
Larkin left Miami following his sophomore campaign when he averaged 14.5 points, 4.6 assists and 2.0 steals while guiding the Hurricanes to a berth in the NCAA Sweet 16. That season, the 5-11, 176-pound Larkin also was the ACC Player of the Year, a second-team All-American and was drafted No. 18 overall by the Atlanta Hawks before his draft rights were traded to the Mavericks.
“We both had very similar careers in college,” Larkin said of Lawson. “Just based on what he did in college and what I did in college and how he’s progressed in the league, that’s how I see myself progressing.
“He’s a little more bulky than me right now, but with the speed and the athleticism I tested better than him at the combine. Our athleticism are very similar — I just got to work harder in order to become the player like him.”
Larkin noted that his work ethic comes from his father, Barry, who had a stellar pro career with Major League Baseball’s Cincinnati Reds that ended with him being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“There’s a lot of advantages for me growing up just watching him orchestrate the way he did and him showing me exactly how to be a professional,” Larkin said. “He played 19 years with the same organization in the Cincinnati Reds, and he was well respected around the league, a 12-time All-Star, MVP, three-time Golden Glove, [nine] Silver Sluggers.
“He accomplished everything — everything he could accomplish. He got a World Series. Now he’s in the Hall of Fame.”
While the younger Larkin has lofty goals, he had a poor pre-draft workout with Dallas.
“It was on a back-to-back and my legs started cramping up,” Larkin said. “So I didn’t get to do everything that they wanted me to do.”
Larkin is adamant about becoming an NBA success story and proving his many critics wrong again.
“Based on my size coming out of high school, they said I couldn’t play D-1 basketball; I couldn’t play high school basketball; I definitely couldn’t play in the ACC; I wasn’t going to be successful — all this type of stuff,” Larkin said. “I’ve never made any of that make me feel less confident about my abilities. I’ve never really let it get to me.
“If people are saying now that I can’t be a starter, I can’t be a successful player in the NBA, I’m just going to use that as motivation to go out there and play even harder and work on my game and become a better player so that eventually I can quiet those doubters as I’ve quieted everybody else so far.”