Dallas Must Have A Wide-Eyed Dalembert

VIDEO: Jose Calderon finds Samuel Dalember for an easy dunk vs. Orlando

DALLAS — All the latest statistical computations reveal the same thickening plot for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference: Dogfight!

Dallas, Phoenix, Denver, Minnesota and Memphis are all separated by 4.5 games. Each team can point to one significant key that could put them over the top. For the hottest team in the group, the 23-16 Mavericks point to good-natured and well-intentioned, but not always, ahem, eye-opening center Samuel Dalembert. They don’t ask him for him to be a force, but rather, a consistent presence on defense and on the boards.

“You know, we don’t ask a tremendous amount from our 5-men,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “We ask them to bring what they can bring to our team at their best possible level. For [Dalembert], we need him active, we need him rebounding, we need him screening, rolling; he’s been making free throws. We ask those guys to play to exhaustion and then we’ll get them out.”

Exhaustion is an interesting choice of words.

The 6-foot-11 Dalembert has had something of an issue getting out of bed, already twice punished for oversleeping and showing up late. He’s paid for it by being benched and even losing his starting job for a spell. Dalembert is a starter again, in the lineup the last three games and eight of the last 11 because there are too many mismatches that hurt the hustling (but defensively liable) 6-foot-7 DeJuan Blair. The lanky, 6-foot-10 Brandan Wright is an offensive commodity off the bench, but he’s not a strong defender or rebounder.

“We start [Dalembert] because it’s the best thing for our team,” Carlisle said. “The last three or four games I like what he’s done. His focus has been good. It’s evident what he brings to the team. It’s good.”

Dalembert says he’s dealing with a sleep disorder, but it’s not as if this kind of thing hasn’t frustrated coaches and front office-types at his previous three stops over the last three seasons. Mavs owner Mark Cuban recently said he doesn’t know if Dalembert has a sleep disorder or not, but he’s seen enough know to he needs the big man playing with both eyes wide open.

“I told him he’s All-Star caliber when he’s laying it out there,” Cuban said.

After both oversleeping episodes, Dalembert, who signed a two-year, $7.5 million contract last summer, expressed guilt and remorse. On Nov. 25, his oversleeping made him late for a morning shootaround and led to a first-quarter benching in Dallas’ eventual 110-96 loss to Denver. Afterward, he somberly offered up this classic, no-pun-intended analysis: “It was a wake-up call for us.”

Dallas sorely needs an engaged Dalembert to compete against the West’s bigger frontcourts. The Mavs are a poor rebounding team (27th in rebound percentage) and are porous defensively (19th in defensive rating, 22nd in opponent field-goal percentage) and sport with a soft perimeter defense that must have back-up from an active rim protector.

The Mavs’ defensive rating is 101.3 with Dalembert on the floor. He owns the second-best individual rating among rotation players behind reserve forward Jae Crowder. With Dalembert on the bench, the Mavs’ defensive rating soars to 106.3, the second-largest jump on the team, again behind Crowder. Dalembert is never again going to be a 30-minute-a-night player. So the 20 he gets — or should get — have to be good.

Wednesday brings a massive road test when Dallas puts its three-game win streak up against the Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 p.m. ET, League Pass). L.A. has won three in a row since All-Star point guard Chris Paul suffered a right shoulder separation on Jan. 3 in Dallas. The Clippers rallied to win the game behind this combined stat line from power forward Blake Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan: 50 points (18-for-32 shooting, including nine dunks), 33 rebounds (11 offensive), six assists and four blocked shots. Dalembert started the game, played 21 minutes and had nine points, five rebounds and one block.

On Friday, Dallas plays at Phoenix (9 ET, League Pass). The Suns trounced the Mavs on Dec. 21. Dalembert didn’t start, played seven minutes and Dallas got outrebounded, 45-36.

During Dallas’ three-game win streak, Dalembert has logged a total of 60 minutes, his second-highest minutes total over a three-game span since late November. He’s averaged 5.0 ppg on 58.3 percent shooting, 7.7 rpg with four blocked shots.

It’s all nothing terribly eye-popping. But with Dalembert, it’s all about presence.

“I go by the recent trends and the recent trends are that he’s been ready and he’s been into it and that’s what we need from him,” Carlisle said. “It’s pretty clear. We’ve laid it out to him: We want it simple and do what you do.”


  1. Andy says:

    That wasn’t even a dunk

  2. Tom says:

    Is there any way the Mavs could work out a trade of Dalembert for Asik?

  3. Kenneth says:

    Trading Chandler is a wrong decision. Sorry Cuban.

    However, Cuban make a right decision to sign Monta Ellis!!!!!!!!

    • Kenneth says:

      I hope Dallas can get into playoffs and versus Warriors.

      To show Mark Jackson, trading Ellis is a wrong decision. GO ELLIS!!!!!!

      Take the last shot and dont foget to defense Curry’s 3 pointer!!!!!!

      Should be real exciting.

  4. dan says:

    to bad that Mavs could not get Tyreke Evans this summer. He would be much better match-up with Monta then Calderon because of his athletisicm.

  5. Hunter says:

    Im saving my judgment until mid March to see what these guys are capable of. I think they will stand pat at the deadline and with Harris back and everyone being injury free I feel chemistry will help improve them.
    BEST case scenario: they finish 4th in the west behind Spurs, Thunder and Clippers.
    WORST miss playoffs or finish with a measly 8thspot only to be bounced.
    These guys all haven’t played fully healthy together and they are deep despite some defense issues they are deep.
    GO MAVS!

  6. okc2014 says:

    San Antonio, OKC, Portland, Houston, GSW, Clippers, Phoenix, Memphis. Dallas won’t make playoffs and neither will Minnesota. How do you like those apples?

  7. rich says:

    Wanna bet Mavs will have a higher seed than the Blazers at the end of the regular season ?

  8. Allycat says:

    Dallas will make the playoffs. Last year he missed the first 26 games. If he played all last season too the mavs would’ve made playoffs as well. Look at kobe bryant and the lakers same thing is happening over there that happened to us last year.

  9. dustydreamnz says:

    Will the Mavs make the playoffs? I’m undecided. Like you say great offence vs bad defence.

  10. KillerDancer says:

    “It was a wake-up call for us”
    I just couldnt stop laughing for a few minutes.

    Actually Dallas is probabaly the worst defensive Team in the NBA. The numbers jsut dont show because they have such a great Offense, they score a lot, which makes it so much harder for the opponent to score. If Dallas were an average offensive Team, the numbers would show they are the worst defensive Team.

    Dallas needs Dalembert, but Im also excited about Harris. Because Monta Ellis and Calderon are the 2nd worst Guard-pairing defensively. Numbers show. A lot of areas to improve for the Mavs.
    With so many bad defensive Players, only the Zone can save them.