This week, the Dallas Mavericks and Devin Harris signed a five year extension. Despite what the naysayers will say, Devin is the most solid point guard option the Mavs have had since forfeiting the right to keep Steve Nash.
Most fans and commentators seem to be unable to grasp the concept of Harris as a talented point guard from a DIFFERENT style than Steve Nash. Most of the disappointment comes from the differences in style and the overwhelming success and spotlight Nash has earned since joining Phoenix.
If you’re having trouble acknowledging this, it is time to face the truth: Devin Harris will never be Steve Nash, and Steve Nash is never coming back to Dallas.
Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, it is time to acknowledge that Dallas made a wise move here. Whether you agree or not, Harris is a commodity because of his speed, defense, and slashing ability. He lacks consistency, outside shooting, and the mentality of running the team.
The mentality is the most important, because it’s what drives a man to excel at all the other things. You can’t blame Harris for lacking the leader mentality because he’s never been treated like a team leader. Circumstances have kept him positioned as this “kid with potential” only. Putting Jason Terry as the starting point guard when Devin Harris was the closest thing to a true point guard on the team was a bad move. Dallas should have given Devin the time to grow on the court up front.
I don’t know how we decide which rookies deserve to start and which don’t, but we often make the wrong decisions. If for no other reason, Devin Harris should have been starting at point guard so that in his mind, it is firmly established that he runs the team. Jason Terry starting has caused a lack of confidence in Devin, because he doesn’t really know his role. Dallas needs to commit to Devin and say, you’re going to start and you’re going to lead so start getting geared up!
This will be the first full season where Devin will know that he knows that he is the point guard. The coaches, the players, the media, and the fans all need to start treating him as the leader. Sure, we can still go to Dirk in a crunch, but Dirk doesn’t call the plays. Dirk doesn’t make sure the open man gets the ball. Dirk isn’t the quarterback of the team. In football terms, Devin is the quarterback and Dirk is the star receiver.
In order to succeed, Devin needs to develop an ownership mentality of this team. Dallas wins or loses based on him. They score and set the tempo, and make the stops when necessary because of him. This is the year to establish that attitude. Jason Terry doesn’t lead this team. Dirk doesn’t lead this team. This is Devin’s team. And this is the year to set that understanding into the foundation of the team.
Devin can increase his shooting accuracy and his passing. But the Mavs need a point guard who owns the team and leads the team and takes responsibility for the team’s attitude. Before anyone even looks to him as the leader, he has to assume that role in his own mind and carry the team on his back. A point guard with his quickness naturally sets the tempo any time he chooses.
For the 2007-2008 season, watch how Devin handles stress, pressure, and difficulty. Look to see how he carries the burden and how he gets the team fired up. Look at his eyes. The day he goes from looking like a wide-eyed, overwhelmed school boy to a prowling badass, expect to see something great.