With Brandan Wright set to return Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks the questions surrounding the Dallas Mavericks’ center position continue to raise.
Samuel Dalembert who was brought in to be defensive minded starting center the team needed to compliment Dirk Nowitzki has not just seen his minutes decrease but also his role. It’s been evident that Rick Carlisle has not been pleased with Dalembert’s effort and play over the last couple weeks, as he’s elected to start 6’7″ DeJuan Blair over him and has even given second year player Bernard James extended minutes in games he’s felt Dalembert hasn’t been a factor. It has yet to be seen wether Dalembert will be able to regain his starting sport from the surprising Blair.
As much as Blair has exceeded expectations, it is obvious that he isn’t suited to be this team’s full time starter. Asking Blair to start and match up against players three to six inches taller than him isn’t ideal for the Mavericks. We’ve seen players such as Robin Lopez and Andrew Bogut begin able to exploit his lack of size early on in games. Blair is better suited to match up against second tier players where he can use his strength and energy to change games.
When Dalembert was brought in to be the starting center it was easy to forget that the Mavericks finished 15-8 with Wright getting big minutes at the end of last season. The final 23 games of the season Wright was averaging 11.2 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.7 blocks in 24 minutes per game. Offensively Wright was a great fit alongside Nowitzki and should be able to excel while running the pick-n-roll with Monta Ellis and Jose Calderon. In Wright’s lone preseason game he was able to show flashes of improvement as he scored 14 points and had 3 rebounds in just 19 minutes of action. As Blair struggles against taller players, Wright’s slender frame is a weakness. Wright added 15 pounds of muscle this offseason to better try to matchup against these bigger centers.
The hope was that upon Wright’s return he would be able to solidify the bench alongside Blair, but with Dalembert’s demotion the center position may be a revolving door throughout the season as it was last.