DALLAS — It’s rare that a player comes to a new team looking to play a similar role as one of his predecessors.
However, after seeing the impact that former Dallas Mavericks center Tyson Chandler had on the team during its track to the 2011 NBA title, that’s just what new addition Samuel Dalembert hopes to replicate this upcoming season.
While he is quick to downplay comparison’s to Chandler’s uncanny ability to finish above the rim on the offensive end of the floor, Dalembert does hope to have a similar influence on a Dallas defense that ranked 27th in the league last season after allowing 101.7 points an outing. The 11-year veteran will also try to rekindle his own career, after bouncing around the last three seasons with Sacramento, Houston and Milwaukee following his first eight professional seasons in Philadelphia.
“Defensively, you know, that’s what I’ve built my career upon,” Dalembert said in an exclusive interview with Mavs.com Tuesday after working out on the Mavs’ practice court. “You know, since I started playing professionally and also in college I’ve always been a defensive player, even when I used to play soccer. I’m ready to take charge of that defensively.”
The 6-11, 250-pound big man signed with the Mavs as a free agent on July 19 after averaging 6.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 47 games for Milwaukee last season. He holds career averages of 8.0 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. Compare that to Chandler’s lone season in Dallas, when the 7-footer averaged 10.1 points, 9.4 boards and 1.1 blocks an outing in 74 games, and Dalembert says he’s the man for the job as he tries to take control of the painted area on the defensive end of the floor.
“I mean, we’re two different types of players defensively,” Dalembert said while comparing himself to the former Defensive Player of the Year for the New York Knicks. “I’m more of an off-the-ball defender, and for my career it’s proven as a defender and shot blocker. I think we have a different type of game, but I will bring something similar and some more stuff on the court.”
Meanwhile, Dalembert will also try to make life easier for 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki on the Dallas front line, hoping to allow the Mavs’ leading scorer to focus on putting the ball in the basket.
Playing in Philadelphia with Allen Iverson the season after his ’01 MVP campaign, the big man says he grew accustom to playing alongside a superstar. And it’s that experience that has Dalembert giddy to team with Nowitzki as the Mavericks try to get back to the playoffs.
“I mean, I’m used to that. I’ve played with superstars before. … I’ve played with star players before, and that’s why they brought me here. I’ve got [Nowitzki’s] back defensively,” Dalembert foreshadowed.
He added: “You know, I just want him to stay focused on offense, save his energy, and that’s why they brought me here. Playing with a guy like that, all the focus is going to be on him, and then that’s going to make my job easy. When I used to be with the Sixers, they used to call me the X-Factor, because the focus was on Iverson and I’d go out there and crash and make things happen offensively and defensively.”
He’ll now try to be an X-factor in a Mavericks uniform.