The days of Samuel Dalembert as a headache within the Dallas Mavericks organization are over.
And it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Dallas continues to inch closer to a playoff berth after a successful three-game West Coast road trip, now 1.5 games ahead of Memphis and a half game in front of Phoenix.
The Mavs will be a formidable low seed heading into the playoffs, no matter who they face. Offensively, it’s no secret they have the talent. Defensively, especially regarding rebounding, it’s a struggle for Dallas.
Yet, quietly, having himself a solid first season in Dallas is the stopgap player that was considered a nuisance when 2013-14 tipped off.
It’s only been three months since the drama involving Dalembert’s malfunctioning alarm clock cost him a game. He was suspended for the Jan. 5 loss against the New York Knicks because he was late to a workout. That was the second time Dalembert forgot to plug in his alarm clock.
It’s uncertain whether Dalembert invested in a solar-powered alarm clock or is now using his phone alarm full time. Maybe it’s that Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle has gotten what he’s needed out of him.
Carlisle has proved time and time again that he’s one of the best coaches in the NBA. What he’s done in Dallas since becoming head coach has been remarkable. Even last year, without Dirk Nowitzki for a good chunk of the season, the Mavs still finished 41-41.
Somehow, he finds a way to coach his team to victory. With that, comes with getting the most out of your players. When the trade deadline came and went, screams for Omer Asik to Dallas (or anyone not named Dalembert) were heard loud and clear.
It can’t be explained what’s gotten into Dalembert. But he’s playing some of the best basketball ever. It’s not Tyson Chanlder-esque, but it’s solid for a center that’s desperately needed on both ends of the floor.
Since the March 16 win over Oklahoma City, Dalembert has scored in double digits six times. The way he’s scored is what’s been impressive. The scouting report doesn’t read, “can hit 15-foot jumpers at any given point.” Dalembert is showing off an effective mid-range game, as well as showing his athleticism around the rim.
A knock on Dalembert is he doesn’t use his size to his advantage. At 7-feet, Dalembert should be able to contend against most big men. However, he’s given up his share of double-doubles, most notably to DeAndre Jordan.
As much of a head scratcher that is, Dalembert has averaged 8.1 rebounds in the last month and a half. That’s a quality number considering how many athletic rebounders are on the Mavs.
Even under the rim, Dalembert has found a way to make an impact. He averaged 1.6 blocks per game in March, with seven of them coming against Brooklyn. Dalembert didn’t crack a block per game for any month-long stretch of time.
When Dalembert can play effectively, Dallas becomes a much more difficult team to beat. The numbers tell that he doesn’t need to be a dominant double-double guy. He can be if the Mavs played consistent defense.
His play has earned Dalembert the right to come back next year, especially if he has a quality postseason. He’s not a difference maker to think of, but Dalembert is a glue guy in the rotation.
Dallas needs guys like that. And it’s a good thing Carlisle stuck with him.
You can find Danny Webster on Twitter @DannyWebster21.