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Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Mavs mailbag: Dominant closer Devin Harris?

By Tim MacMahon

If the Mavs want the sixth seed, they’d better beat the Golden State Warriors tonight.

It’s a big game, but you’ve got a lot of time to kill before that late West Coast tipoff. Might as well jump into the mailbag.

On to your questions ...

What do you make of Devin Harris closing out games at PG? -- @MacSportsTalk on Twitter

As Rick Carlisle said about Harris’ overall performance the other night, what’s there not to like? Harris got the closing call over Jose Calderon the last two games, and the Mavs slammed the door on a couple of playoff teams, going on combined 27-7 runs against the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers after Harris checked back in for the stretch runs.

Harris
Has Devin Harris earned the right to close games after his performance over the weekend?
In my mind, Harris has at least earned the right to be the closer until the Mavs don’t finish strong with him running the show. I’m not sure Carlisle feels the same way. If he feels floor spacing is of premium importance, he could go with Calderon.

But spacing the floor is really all Calderon has done for the Mavs during crunch time. Harris is much more aggressive on both ends of the floor and has come up with huge three-point plays off drives in each of the last two games.

Harris was a crunch-time hero over the weekend. I wouldn’t mess with that as long as it keeps being a good thing.

Did you know Dallas has two of the top 10 players in PER? And you’d never guess who the second player is. -- @chrisminjaelee on Twitter

Well, this isn’t actually true now, but you tweeted this before Blake Griffin’s big game knocked a couple of Mavs down a spot.

Still, you act like it’s stunning that Brandan Wright ranks 11th in the NBA in PER, one spot behind Dirk Nowitzki. It’s not like this came out of nowhere. Wright ranked 20th last season.

Wright is the only player with a top-40 PER who averages fewer than 20 minutes per game. Does that mean he deserves more playing time or that Carlisle is expertly picking spots for Wright to succeed? Sounds like a good question for 3 Points on Wednesday.

Where would you rank Dirk and Jason Kidd among the other Dallas great athletes like Michael Irvin, Emmitt Smith, Troy Aikman, etc.? -- Rahul (Dallas)

I don’t put Kidd in that class of Dallas sports legends because his prime years weren’t with the Mavs and he chose to end his career elsewhere. He deserves to have his number hanging in the American Airlines Center rafters, but he’s on a different level than Dirk.

Where do you rank Dirk? That’s a matter of personal preference, but there’s no question that he’s in the conversation with Cowboys legends like The Triplets and Roger Staubach. I’m not a hockey guy, but I can see the similarities between Dirk and Mike Modano, a couple of all-time greats who put their franchises on the map and delivered championships to Dallas.

Who do you think will be left out of the playoffs? Mavs, Suns or Grizzlies? -- @Sukselainen on Twitter

I’ve been saying the Suns all along, and I’ll stick with it now that the standings finally agree. I just think Phoenix has overachieved all season. Nobody expected the Suns to be in the playoff mix when the season started.

If Harris keeps playing well, what kind of contract would he get in the offseason? -- @hags4142

That’s a great question. He’s been an unbelievable bargain at the veteran’s minimum despite missing the first half of the season. Harris had agreed to a three-year, $10 million deal with the Mavs before his pre-signing physical screening caught the red flag of a toe that required surgery. If I’m the Mavs, I’d sign Harris to that deal in a heartbeat this summer. He might be able to get more, but there’s no doubt that Harris enjoys playing in Dallas.

The Mavs beat the Pacers despite Dirk shooting 3-of-14 from the field. I was curious what is the Mavs' record when Dirk shoots less than 35 percent this year? -- Parker (Dallas)

Believe it or not, the Mavs are 3-2 in those games this season. By comparison, the Mavs are 84-96 when Nowitzki shoots worse than 35 percent throughout the course of his career, according to basketball-reference.com’s data.

I know it’s way too early, but who are some NCAA (looking at you Mark) prospects the Mavs could potentially land in the draft? -- @JimmyTraina1 on Twitter

I don’t watch much college hoops until March Madness, much less consider myself to be a draft expert. I’ll refer you to ESPN.com draft guru Chad Ford’s top 100 list for names to watch. Don’t get too excited about any first-round prospects. Remember that the Mavs owe Oklahoma City a top-20 protected pick. It looks like Dallas will finally pay that bill this summer. The Mavs’ pick would be 22nd at the moment.