The Dallas Mavericks defeated the New Orleans Pelicans 107-90 last night. With Dirk Nowitzki putting up 24 points and Monta Ellis adding 23 points and 8 assists, it’s easy to overlook the play of the starting center, who happened to be Samuel Dalembert for the night.
Dalembert has struggled all season with consistency, productivity and energy on the court. Well, he came to play tonight. Dalembert finished with 9 points (4-6 fg), 8 rebounds, and 3 blocks in just 18 minutes. He also had the second highest plus/minus on the team with +27 (Nowitzki +31).
Coach Rick Carlisle had plenty of praise for Dalembert after the game,
He didn’t play a lot of minutes tonight, but his energy and presence were high-level. He brings our rebounding and our rim protection to another level when he’s rested and energetic and playing at a high level. It’s good to have him back playing like this.
When the Mavericks brought Dalembert in, they were hoping that he could bring defense, energy, and rebounding that’s been missing since Tyson Chandler left for the New York Knicks.
Dalembert has found himself in and out of the starting lineup and rotation this season due to his inconsistency and off-court problems (over-sleeping).
The inconsistencies of Dalembert have hurt the team at this point of the season. In the teams 15 losses, Dalembert has averaged 4.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 1 block, and has a defensive rating of 109 in 18 minutes.
In the teams 21 wins (He’s played in 20), Dalembert has averaged 7.1 points, 7.7 rebounds, 1.45 blocks, and a 100 defensive rating in 22.5 minutes.
It’s evident that when Dalembert shows up and has an impact on the game, it makes the Mavericks a much better team.
Nowtizki even notes the importance of Dalembert,
We’ve kind of got a three- or four-headed monster there at [center], but his length and ability to jump, none of the other guys got. I still like when he’s active, defends and rebounds and changes shots. That makes us a different team.
But as it’s important for him to show up, it’s just as important for him to start. The team is 15-8 in games that Dalembert starts. And in games that Dalembert isn’t the starting center, the Mavericks are just 6-8.
The Mavericks need more of the this Dalembert that they saw against the Pelicans.
The MAVS need him to be the shot-blocking, rebounding, energized, and STARTING center they signed him to be.