Now is the perfect time to take a look back at the Dallas Mavericks’ center position since the 2011-2012 season.
Without even playing a minute, DeAndre Jordan is already the best center the Mavericks have had since Tyson Chandler left after 2011. He’s the frontcourt presence Dallas has needed for years. He’ll also fit nicely with the young talent the Mavericks have on the wing. It should be fun to watch Jordan catching lobs from Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic.
That’s not to say he’s without his faults. I’m concerned about his rim protection–he recorded the lowest blocks per game of his career last season. His field goal percentage slipped to 64% last season, down from 71% the year before. Did he just have a down year after losing teammates Blake Griffin and Chris Paul? Or was this the first sign of diminishing skills due to age? We’ll find out soon.
But before we pick Jordan apart, let’s take a look back at the players who have manned center for the Mavericks since the 2011 championship team. It’ll help us appreciate what Jordan brings to the table.
Brendan Haywood (2012)
After Tyson Chandler signed with the Knicks in the summer of 2011, Haywood took over as starting center for the Mavericks. He was solid, but unimpressive. He averaged five points and six rebounds per game. After the season, the Mavericks amnestied Haywood, who they stilled owed $27 million.
He signed with the Charlotte Bobcats and only played in 83 games over the next three seasons. Haywood was a solid rotational player for the Mavs’ 2011 championship team, but was on the downside of his career by 2012. He was just a stop-gap option at center, as the Mavericks had their hearts set on signing Dwight Howard in 2013. Spoiler alert: they didn’t.
Chris Kaman (2013)
Kaman was signed to a one-year deal in 2012, as the Mavericks again waited for their big fish Howard. A former all-star (only once, in 2010), Kaman performed well in Dallas. He averaged 10 points and almost six rebounds per game in his one season for the Mavericks.
But Kaman never found a fit with the Mavericks, which might have been the result of an injury in training camp. He signed with the Lakers the next summer, and didn’t have good things to say about Rick Carlisle when he left.
Samuel Dalembert (2014)
Dalembert is the only center on this list to be suspended for missing practice by oversleeping. I really don’t think I should have to say more than that.
Tyson Chandler (2015)
The defensive anchor of the 2011 championship team came back for one more season in 2014-2015. And you know what? He was actually slightly better in 2015 than he was in 2011. He averaged two more rebounds per game in 2015 than he did in 2011. His points per game were about the same, and his blocks were down a bit, but overall, you got vintage Tyson for this one year with the Mavericks.
Mavs fans were disappointed when Chandler signed with the Suns the next season, but it was for the best. He’s declined pretty sharply over the past three seasons. But he’ll always be remembered as one of the most important pieces of the Mavericks’ only championship team.
Zaza Pachulia (2016)
With eight points and nine rebounds per game, Pachulia put up respectable numbers in his one season in Dallas. He didn’t protect the rim, however, averaging less than half a block per game. The most memorable thing Pachulia did here in Dallas was almost being voted into the All-Star Game as a starter back in 2016 due to some fishy Georgian ballot-stuffing.
Andrew Bogut (2016)
Bogut and Dirk Nowitzki were not a pair that could work together defensively, so Bogut was moved to the bench. He wasn’t thrilled. After playing in only 26 games, he was traded to the Sixers as part of the package for Nerlens Noel, who promptly waived him. Bogut signed with the Cavaliers a few days later, but fractured his tibia in his first game. Cleveland waived him not long after. Bogut’s time in Dallas was short and a little disappointing for Mavs fans.
Nerlens Noel (2017-2018)
The trade for Noel didn’t work out, but that doesn’t mean it was a disaster. At first things started well, with Noel averaging 8.5 points and nearly seven rebounds per game for Dallas. He showed energy on defense and brought much-needed youth to the team.
But then he turned down the Mavericks’ $70 million contract, confident he could get more money as an unrestricted free agent the next summer. Noel then played himself out of the rotation, had the infamous hotdog incident, tore a ligament in his thumb, and then got suspended. By the end of the season, Noel and the Mavericks were sick of each other. Noel signed with the Thunder this offseason, and it feels like the best move for both parties.
Mavs fans have suffered through some disappointments, temporary fixes, and downright disasters at the five for the past decade. DeAndre Jordan is going to be a significant upgrade at the center position for the Mavericks next year. It’s just another reason to look forward to next season.