DALLAS — After starting 68 of his 80 games in his first season with the Dallas Mavericks, center Samuel Dalembert now believes he can provide much more if given the opportunity.
Playing just 20.2 minutes per game during the season while splitting time with fellow big men Brandan Wright and DeJuan Blair, Dalembert averaged 6.6 points and led the team while pulling down 6.8 rebounds and rejecting 1.2 shots an outing. He also finished the regular season by emerging as a menace on the glass, recording seven double-digit rebounding performances over the final 16 games as the Mavericks closed the schedule strong to get into the playoffs.
Still, Dalembert says he can do more after averaging 4.6 points and a team-best 8.4 boards during the Mavs’ first-round playoff series loss to San Antonio in seven games.
“You just have to wait for your time to be out there and go out there and make the best of it,” Dalembert explained after wrapping up the season. “You know, I want to be out there consistently, but it was a three-big rotation. The times you get something going and you’re really in the zone, you have to wait another 14 minutes to get back in it and it was tough. You know, it was tough, but overall I’m kind of happy to see the outcome. We really stepped up and we really made the best of the situation. I want to play like that all the time, but you know, you’ve got to play. … You know, it was a tough thing, but it was for the best for the team. We really put our [egos] to the side and we went out there and made the best with what we had. And I was very happy and very proud to see how the guys responded to it. You know, I was happy.”
Showing his value to the Mavs this season in the interior, Dalembert is once again expected to contend for the starting center spot heading into next year. However, after battling through several nagging injuries throughout the course of the season, the 6-foot-11 big man knows he will have to prove himself to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle once again during training camp.
Hampered by a stiff back during exhibition play, Dalembert admittedly got off to a slow start. But when his team needed him most the 12-year veteran stepped up his game, giving the Mavs their most consistent contributor at the 5 spot later in the season.
He now vows to be ready to play a larger role for the Mavericks next season. And after signing with the Mavs as a free agent last summer, Dalembert will try to make himself at home in Dallas.
“I mean, I struggled with some injuries early,” Dalembert confessed. “The back in the beginning of the preseason and I struggled with the shoulder … but none of these things ever stopped me from going out there and really stepping up and being ready for the game. Yes, I might not have been 100 percent all the time, but I was always available and always ready to play.”