Let’s just say that Samuel Dalembert didn’t exactly blow anyone away with his debut for the Dallas Mavericks in their first preseason game. The big man was practically in foul trouble right from the opening tip off.
It took less than five minutes for the Mavericks’ top center to pick up four fouls, which limited his minutes for the game to a mere 11. Even in his brief playing time, he wasn’t particularly impressive, scoring four points, collecting two rebounds and turning the ball over four times. Needless to say, the team had much higher expectations for their new starting center.
Coach Rick Carlisle questioned Dalembert’s conditioning after the game, saying, “he’s just not in the condition that he needs to be in.” It wasn’t all criticism by the head coach, as we went on to say, “when he’s in shape, he’s a factor as a rim protector and rebounder, and he gives you a big, active, athletic body in there.”
Dalembert claims that his conditioning is not a problem, but he says he is still feeling the effects of a mild but lingering back injury he suffered during practice. He says that he knew he was hurt, but, “stupid me, my pride takes over and I wanted to practice. I didn’t want to take off, so that kind of slowed me down a little bit.”
Dallas really needs Dalembert to find a way to stay on the court, as Bernard James is the only other true center on a guaranteed contract. Brandan Wright, Dirk Nowitzki and DeJuan Blair are all natural power forwards but will slide over to center when needed.
Whatever is slowing Dalembert down, the Mavericks will need him to be more effective than he was in the first preseason game and perform more like the player they envisioned when they brought him in as a free agent. Luckily, that progression won’t have to wait long as Dallas will face the Memphis Grizzlies for their second game on October 9.