- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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No, that’s not a short joke, although their sub-six-foot stature is one reason for the Barea-Larkin comparison.
It’s just that Larkin strives to be an NBA starter. That’s why he prefers to compare himself to another vertically challenged NBA point guard.
“I see myself as a Ty Lawson type,” Larkin said during a conference call with Dallas reporters. “Just somebody that can go out there every night and make an impact with my speed and quickness.”
Larkin’s career path is pretty similar to Lawson’s to this point. Lawson was the ACC player of the year as a junior at North Carolina before being selected with the 18th overall pick in the 2009 draft. Larkin was the ACC player of the year as a sophomore at Miami before being selected No. 18 last week.
The 5-foot-11, 197-pound Lawson is thicker than the 5-foot-11, 171-pound Larkin, but Larkin is quicker and more explosive. Larkin has data from the draft combine to prove it, noting that he tested better than Lawson.
*Larkin had a 44-inch vertical max vertical, the best combine measurement in DraftExpress.com’s database. Lawson leaped 36.5 inches as a draft prospect.
*Larkin was timed in the three-quarters-court sprint at 3.08 seconds, the fastest at this year’s combine. Lawson’s time: 3.12.
*Larkin’s time in the lane agility test was 10.64, the sixth-best at this year’s combine. Lawson was timed at 10.98 in 2009.
None of that guarantees that Larkin can be an NBA starter or even a rotation player, but his athleticism, pick-and-roll pedigree and perimeter shooting ability are among the reasons that the little guy thinks big. There’s also a healthy chip on the shoulder of baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin’s son, who enjoyed hushing those who didn’t think he could play Division I basketball, much less star in the ACC.
"People are saying now that I can't be a starter, I can't be a successful player in the NBA,” Larkin said. “I'm just going to use that as motivation."
Larkin’s immediate goals aren’t too large, though. He simply wants to earn playing time and be productive as a rookie.
It’s a pretty good plan to continue following a similar path to the one traveled by Lawson, who primarily came off the Denver bench during his first two NBA seasons before emerging as one of the West’s better starting point guards the last two years.
That’s what Larkin is aiming for. If he ends up being the next Barea, that’s not bad, either.