Samuel Dalembert hopes to do this season for the Dallas Mavericks what Tyson Chandler was able to accomplish during the 2010-11 campaign.
Chandler joined the Mavericks on July 13, 2010, via a trade with the Charlotte Bobcats. The fiery, athletic center came to Dallas as a wounded warrior, having navigated his way through a series of injuries and saddled with lingering questions about his health.
However, Chandler used his hustle, grit and determination to change the Mavericks’ culture with his tenacious defense and ability to protect the rim. His contributions were extremely instrumental in the Mavs winning the 2011 NBA championship.
Fast forward to Dalembert, who left the Milwaukee Bucks via free agency over the summer. While surveying the NBA landscape, he knew the Mavericks would become a perfect fit for his style of play. In essence, Dalembert (6-foot-11, 250 pounds) realized he was the right player to fill the role Chandler once occupied.
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“I just looked at things from last year, and this team just needed one more ingredient,” the 32-year old Dalembert said after Tuesday’s first practice of training camp. “We can score — scoring is no issue for us.
“It’s just the defense and giving up second-chance opportunities.”
Small forward Shawn Marion welcomes a player such as Dalembert, who can protect the rim.
“I like somebody that’s aggressive around the paint and that’s going to attack every time somebody comes in there,” Marion said. “It’s not going to be an open lane to the basket.
“When somebody is able to protect the paint it makes it a lot easier for us, and it makes us want to defend even more.”
Power forward Dirk Nowitzki also sees value in the Mavericks signing Dalembert to a two-year, $7.5 million contract in July.
“I think Sammy should bring some of the stuff that really meshes well with my game, and that’s rebounding and protecting the paint,” Nowitzki said. “He’s always been one of the best rebounding-per-minute guys, and his length should really help us around the basket.”
Like Chandler, Dalembert is trying to prove that the numbers he posted the season before coming to Dallas were an aberration.
Prior to joining the Mavericks, Chandler averaged 6.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 22.8 minutes per contest for the Bobcats during the 2009-10 season. Last season with the Bucks, Dalembert averaged 6.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 16.3 minutes per game.
If Dalembert can do for the Mavericks this season what Chandler did in the 2010-11 season, that would be a nice comeback after he — save for his rookie season — registered career lows in rebounds and minutes played.
“It was a down year last year,” Dalembert said. “It was one of those moments where ... you can take it one way or you take it another way as a challenge, and that’s what I’ve done.
“I’ve got a new opportunity here, and I’m not going to let that slide down.”
Only time will tell whether Dalembert is the second coming of Chandler, who won the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year award in 2011-12 while playing for the New York Knicks.
“When [the Mavs] called me, I didn’t think twice,” Dalembert said. “A veteran team that wants to win, and everybody here knows what to do.
“And they play to win. That’s a good thing.”