Posted: 6:53 p.m. Wednesday, July 17, 2013
By Josh Bowe
Because things were just getting WAY too quiet around Mavs Land, ESPN's Marc Stein has this update on the Mavericks search for a center:
Mavericks closing in on deal with Samuel Dalembert to be their new starting center. Deal, I'm told, should be wrapped up soon— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 17, 2013
This isn't terribly surprising. Much like Jose Calderon, Dalembert has been linked to the Mavs multiple times in the last half-decade or so.
It's a horrible consolation prize to the Dwight Howard sweepstakes for sure, but the Mavericks current center is Bernard James, who committed seven fouls in his only Summer League game. Point is, Dallas needed a center and while it's definitely awful that the team has to resort to this bottom-of-the-barrel signing, imagine if the Mavs DIDN'T sign Dalembert and some other team scooped him up. Blerg.
So what can we expect from Dalembert? Well, he's 32-years-old with career averages of about 8 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks a game. Want to get super depressed? As our own Andrew noted, if Dalembert puts up those career numbers in Dallas, he'll probably still be the second-best center of the Dirk era (depending on how much you enjoyed Erick Dampier screens).
But, he isn't a regular 32-year-old center. Big men don't usually age well, but Dalembert hasn't played in 80 games since the 2010-2011 season. He also hasn't averaged at least 30 minutes per game since the 2007-2008 season.
Last season with the Bucks, Dalembert only played in 47 games and averaged just 16.3 minutes per game. Point is, he's getting old but he's relatively fresh compared to most 30-year-old bigs in the league.
And in those limited minutes last season, Dalembert put up an 18.6 PER, his highest of his career and posted per-36 numbers of 14.7 points, 13 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game. Those numbers aren't outrageous compared to his career per-36 numbers (11.4 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.6 blocks).
Offensively, Dalembert is solid. He probably attempts too many mid-range jumpers for my liking, but he actually hit a respectable 44 percent from mid-range last season according to NBA.com. He also finished shots in the restricted area at a 62 percent clip. Not amazing but not awful. He's also a career 70 percent free throw shooter which will help tremendously playing off Dirk. You can give him the ball in the post and he won't embarrass himself, but his game is mainly just a standard assortment of jump hooks and ball fakes.
There are of course, holes. He allowed opposing centers to have a PER of around 19 last season and the Bucks defense wasn't really that much better off with him on the court, according to NBA.com (that could also stem from the amazing impact LARRY SANDERS! had). He can't cover ground like he used to in Philadelphia and there's always been a strange disconnect from Dalembert's numbers and his team's production. Despite racking up the block and rebound totals, he's never anchored an elite defense. Despite the solid offensive game and field goal percentage, he's never transformed a team on that end either.
But even then, Dalembert's raw rebounding and block totals will be a giant upgrade over what the Mavs have had in the last two seasons. Take that for what you will and however sad you think that is (spoiler alert: VERY SAD).
Perhaps the best news from Stein today didn't have to do with Dalembert. It was with the Mavs continued pursuit of Greg Oden:
Other teams can offer more but Mavs have met face-to-face w/Oden twice and continue to try to sell him on merits of making comeback in Big D— Marc Stein (@ESPNSteinLine) July 17, 2013
This is the good news and makes the Dalembert signing work in two ways: either the Mavs have a somewhat upgrade at the starting center from a year ago or the Mavs have signed an insurance policy for a potential Greg Oden move.
Despite the positive reports of Oden's workouts and his agent's claims that Oden will be ready for the start of the season, there's no way the Mavericks could expect to sign Oden then plug him in as their starting center. When/if Oden returns, there's no doubt he'll be on some sort of strict minutes restrictions. The dude hasn't played basketball in two years and has had THREE micro-fracture surgeries. Even if the Mavs get Oden, they'd need a veteran to play the bulk of the center minutes while Oden continues to rehab and get stronger.
But Dalembert also wouldn't be some sort of intimidating road block for Oden to blossom his comeback in Dallas. Potentially, the Mavs pitch to Oden is come to Dallas, no pressure, rehab with our league-best training staff and doctors, we'll play you the right amount of minutes, we won't overwork or rush you back and then you can seriously compete for the starting job in 2014. That's my thought, at least.