Samuel Dalembert has the unlucky fortune of being grouped into a seemingly endless stream of bigmen pegged to solve the defensive deficiencies of the Mavericks' interior. Many of you, at this point, will likely scream to high heaven a tired argument centered around a former Mavs center whose situation none of us had any control over. Get over it. That was years ago. Dalembert certainly isn't the center that the Mavs were hoping to bring in but he is here now and that is who we must focus on.
Though he is removed from his prime with the Philadelphia 76ers, Dalembert is still a serviceable center. One of his chief skills is his ability to rebound. Last season, Dalembert averaged 5.9 rebounds per game. It was the lowest per game average of his career since his rookie season. However, he also logged the fewest minutes per game, 16.3, since he entered the league. His diminished numbers in Milwaukee are in part a result of his lack of knowledge of Milwaukee's system and the emergence of LARRY SANDERS!, yet his per 36 numbers are on par with those Dalembert has put up throughout his career.
Per 36 minutes, Dalembert averaged 13 rebounds, 4.9 of which were offensive. This was his highest per 36 output since the 2009-10 season. Rebounding, especially on the offensive glass, is something that the Mavericks sorely lacked last season. Dallas ranked 16th overall in rebounding and 26th in offensive rebounding. Given the minutes, Dalembert will surely help to alleviate the Mavs' rebounding struggles.
Unlike Chris Kaman, who is want to loiter around 16 feet or further from the rim, Dalembert spends much of his time on the floor in and near the post. This is because he is an opportunist, waiting, normally on the weak side, to block shots. Dalembert averaged 2.5 blocks per 36 minutes with Milwaukee last season. Teamed with Brandan Wright, when he gets healthy, Dallas could have a formidable shot blocking duo. However, Dalembert's propensity to look for shot blocking opportunities at the rim allows opposing bigs with an outside shooting touch to drift away from his coverage. This sentiment is echoed by Frank Madden of Brew Hoop who states that Dalembert "seemed disinterested in doing much other than hanging back in the paint on P&R." A center focused so much on loitering near the rim will be exploited.
Offensively, Dalembert is more than capable of finishing at the rim off the pick-and-roll. He has shown flashes during the preseason and Mavstoberfest scrimmage of his ability to dart to the rim. His offensive prowess extends beyond the rim as well. Dalembert is "surprisingly dangerous on short turnarounds from the high post," according to Madden. He connected on 48 percent of his shots from 10-16 feet. Farther out, he is far less effective. However, Dalembert was not brought to Dallas for his scoring.
For better or worse, Dallas needs Dalembert to play well. He isn't the defensive anchor that the team needs but he is a big body who is capable of impacting shots and grabbing rebounds. Dalembert's time in Dallas has already hit a few snags but that is nothing new as seemingly every coach Dalembert has played for complained about his play and conditioning at some point. Nonetheless, he can serve the team well if he stays out of foul trouble and Carlisle's doghouse.
A number of years ago, my friends and I would fist-bump and call it Daps for Damp while watching Mavs games. We did it to celebrate any positive play that Erick Dampier had. Needless to say, they were few and far between. Perhaps this year the fist-bump will return under a new guise. Daps for Dal could catch on, couldn't it? Dalembert is better than Dampier but any positive return he gives the team should be noted. They likely won't be flashy but it is the little things that sway the outcomes of games. Hopefully, this is where Dalembert focuses his efforts because he is not going to be a major impact player for Dallas. He is an ad hoc starter who can rebound and should know his role in the court, nothing more.