Taken with the seventh overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, Roy Tarpley was one of the first draft selections in Mavericks history, one who would be at least partly tasked with lifting this new franchise from the abyss and into relevancy.
A tall and lanky center, Tarpley had an endless supply of energy on the basketball court, one which he used to simply out-hustle those matched against him. It didn’t matter if his opponent had him boxed out clean away from the paint, the former Michigan Wolverine would battle and bruise in an all-out battle to obtain possession of the basketball.
Offensively, a good amount of his buckets came from the sheer effort used to grab offensive rebounds and run the floor for easy layups in transition. However, Tarpley also possessed a sliver of actual skills in the scoring department, with a respectable mid-range jumper and the ability to back down smaller defenders.
Upon looking at his rookie statistics, Tarpley’s rebounding numbers stood out the most with 7.1 per game. His scoring was underwhelming at just 7.5 points per game, but both categories take on a whole new light when you realize the man played only 18.7 minutes a night.
Those numbers clear the double-double mark per 36 minutes, and they show his ability to contribute in whatever role was given to him.
An All-Rookie First-Team member, Tarpley’s production would begin to rise once his minutes did the same in the following seasons.
Unfortunately, substance abuse kept him out of the league for three straight seasons during his prime before ultimately leading to his banishment by the NBA in 1991. That being said, there was a time during his inaugural campaign where he looked the part as a future piece to something special down in Texas.