How Do The Mavs 'Get More' From Dalembert?
The Dallas Mavericks, according to comments made by owner Mark Cuban to ESPN, have "got to get Sam playing better ... I just think he can take it to the next level."
It's a wonderful concept. And during The Cuban Era it's been more than "concept''; under Nellie, under Avery and certainly under Rick Carlisle, the Mavs have reason to be proud of their organizational ability to get the best out of middling talent.
At the same time, those success stories have often come by developing kids off the scrap heap (Bass, Barea, B-Wright) or by plugging single-dimensional vets into a highly successful program (DeShawn, Cardinal, Dampier).
This year's Mavs aren't an established juggernaut adding Dalembert as a "final piece'' to a contending puzzle. And Dalembert is no "undeveloped kid''; he is 32, with 11 NBA seasons under his belt.
I believe Dalembert is a conscientious member of the Mavs. His one great gaffe this year is having overslept during a team shootaround, resulting in a temporary demotion. And Sammy responded properly to all of that:
Nevertheless: Repeatedly during the courtship and then the signing of Dalembert, I referred to him as a "7/7 guy.'' My view was that it was a value signing and filled a need ... but that Sam had very much established himself as a guy who was going to score seven points a night and grab seven rebounds a night and that was going to be it. Not much more, not much less ... a "7/7 guy.''
Inside Mavs HQ, there was little dispute about this. DB.com's "Self-Scouting Report'' on Dalembert -- composed here with the help of Mavs staffers -- reflects that:
Mavs scouting view: The are aware of the realities of acquiring centers in a way outsiders cannot be. The Mavs don't waste time pondering if they "finished second'' in the Dwightstakes. They also haven't spent much time correcting the ill-informed who claim they "failed to get Andrew Bynum.'' What they know is they needed a center who fits as a shot-blocker and who fits financially in where the franchise wishes to be.
Projected role: At different times in this preseason we've seen Dalembert suffer from Damp-Hands one night and then make a nifty pass to the hole out of the high-post the next. The unselfishness of Dallas' style could rub off on him, causing him to give the Mavs more of the latter. The low-energy work that leads to Dalembert turnovers could cause Carlisle to pull out the little hair he's left himself.
Upside: Dalembert is, by any measure, one of the NBA's best rim-protectors. The original plan at center for Dallas was named "Dwight Howard,'' and so many candidates -- including Dalembert -- pale compared to that. But alongside Dirk and playing behind what might be a porous backcourt in Ellis and Calderon, a rim-protector is a necessity. If Dalembert is that, this works.
Pitfall: Dalembert is starting a fifth straight season with a new team. In a league where 7-footers are treasured, teams tire of waiting for Dalembert to be "the answer'' and eventually continue their search elsewhere. That doesn't mean Dalembert can't be solid; it means, consistently, he's never better than "solid.'' The problem there: Dallas doesn't have the veteran 7-foot depth of past years. There is a lot of responsibility on Dalembert to get minutes while playing hard and avoiding fouls. A big challenge.
Contract: Dalembert has a two-year contract that pays him $3,700,748 this season and $3,867,282 next season. (But our David Lord reports that in Year 2 only $1.8 million is guaranteed).
Quotable: "I think Sammy should bring some stuff that meshes really well with my game.'' -- Dirk Nowitzki.
That was our report. ( DB.com's exclusive Self-Scouting Reports on every Mavs player, with every detail, can be found here.) "Solid.'' A "rim-protector.'' Sometimes "low-energy.''
A "7/7 guy.''
And where is Dalembert today statistically, as Cuban is trying to milk more out of him? He is averaging 7.6 points and 6.9 rebounds.
A "7/7 guy.''
In 2008-09 with Philly, Dalembert averaged 6.4 points and 8.5 rebounds.
In 2009-10 with Philly, Dalembert averaged 8.1 points and 9.6 rebounds.
In 2010-11 with Sacto, Dalembert averaged 8.1 points and 8.2 rebounds.
In 2011-12 with Houston, Dalembert averaged 7.0 points and 7.5 rebounds.
In 2011-12 with Milwaukee, Dalembert averaged 6.7 points and 5.9 rebounds.
Samuel Dalembert's career averages? By now you should not be surprised to learn they are 7.6 points and 6.9 rebounds.
Dirk might be right in thinking Dalembert is "bringing some stuff that meshes really well'' with Nowitzki. Cuban might be right in explaining that some of Dalembert's pedestrian production is the result of a lack of Dallas practice time (due to the flood of early-season back-to-back games). And maybe there are some subtle "get-more-from'' areas that Carlisle and his staff can work on with Dalembert.
DeJuan Blair's work in supplementing Dalembert has been impressive. Wright practiced in Friday and is on the team flight to Portland for the upcoming three-game road trip. More center help from a trade? Houston reportedly wants to deal Omer Asik "between Dec. 15 and Dec. 19.'' The problem for the Mavs' involvement there is that Wright might be the right sort of piece to be dangled to the Rockets ... but by rule he's not eligible to be traded until Jan. 15th.
So the Mavs are where they are and Dalembert is what he is. And our Scouting Report establishes that the Mavs anticipated exactly what they were getting in signing Sam Dalembert. And the numbers say they are getting exactly what they bargained for.
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