And so the center debate continues...
One player that I think has been largely overlooked as a solid low cost option is Samuel Dalembert. He is a great rebounder, a great shot blocker, and a good overall defender. Offensively, he sets good picks, is an opportunistic and efficient scorer, hits his freethrows well enough for a big guy, and is a great offensive rebounder. His minutes are down significantly this season, but that is not because he is any less of a player than he has been his whole career. The bucks committed to their younger players(Sanders, Henson, Ilyasova, Udoh), and rightfully so. At this point, Sam will be after a starting position and guaranteed minutes, not big money. We can give him that. He made just under 7million this season and with his cutback in minutes, his price tag should go down. I wouldnt be the least bit surprised if he could be had for a Hickson like 1 year, 4 million deal so he can prove himself as a decent starter, and then try to get one more good contract. Some of his numbers among active nba players were quite surprising and impressive.
-SD is 7th among active players in career offensive rebound percentage (12.1%)
-SD is 7th among active players in career defensive rebound percentage (25.4%)
-SD is 5th among active players in career total rebound percentage (18.7%)
-SD is 2nd among active players in career block percentage (5.6%)
-Most importantly, his numbers this season and last season have shown no signs of dropping off. They are all in line with prior season averages, which have been quite consistent over the years. He has also had a very healthy career, he has only missed 3 games in the 7 seasons prior to this year, where he played in 47 games and registered 35 DNP-too many young players that need to develop-.
Next, I'd like to compare his per 36 numbers to some of the other candidates at the center position. Sam's numbers are actually up this season for the most part, but he only played 700 total minutes. His numbers from the season before with Houston are much closer to his career averages and likely a better indicator of what he could bring to the blazers. All stats are adjusted to 36 minutes per game and taken from this last season.
Samuel Dalembert: 12PPG 11.5RPG(4 ORPG) 1APG 2.8BPG 2TOPG 5O%FG 70%FT 17PER
Deandre Jordan: 13PPG 10.5RPG(4 ORPG) .5APG 2.0BPG 2TOPG 64%FG 38%FT 17PER
Tiago Splitter: 15PPG 9RPG(2.5 ORPG) 2APG 1.2BPG 1.8TOPG 56%FG 73%FT 19PER
Joakim Noah: 12PPG 11RPG(4 ORPG) 4APG 2.1BPG 1.1TOPG 48%FG 75%FT 18PER
Nikola Pekovic: 19PPG 10RPG(4 ORPG) 1APG .9BPG 1.9TOPG 52%FG 74%FT 20PER
Marcin Gortat: 13PPG 10RPG(2.5 ORPG) 1.5APG 2BPG 2TOPG 52%FG 65%FT 15PER
The first thing that I noticed is that Splitter and Pek both have impressive stats, but both are far more skilled offensively than defensively which makes them a less than perfect fit. Noah and Jordan would be much better fits on this team and Dalembert is right there with them statistically, minus Noahs awesome ability to pass the ball. Obviously, Dalembert is not Joakim Noah and wont ever be, but my point here is to show that SD can hang with Noah and Jordan when it comes to the things we desperately need out of our center(rebounding and defense). Dalembert is an elite rebounder and shot blocker by the numbers, and those are the two traits we most severely need from our center.
Another reason I like Dalembert as our starting center revolves around our very own Meyers Leonard. I like Meyers, I think he has potential and would like to see him get consistent minutes on the floor. A guy like Dalembert makes that possible, they could essentially split minutes at the center position. Dalembert is the ying to Meyers yang. They each bring different skills to the table which gives stotts some versatility at the center position. I am not a big believer in the whole player mentor theory, so I am not going to suggest that Dalembert could be Leonard's Mr Miagi. However, I do believe in learning through observation. Its no secret that Meyers needs to improve as a defender and rebounder. I believe that Meyers could learn a lot from SD by simply watching him play in the blazers system. Rather than trying to soak up verbal coaching all the time, he would have a living, breathing, moving example to follow when it comes to positioning/rotating himself for blocks and rebounds.
So, why go after a low cost option like Dalembert rather than trying to get a high caliber center? Two words: sixth man. I personally believe that a high quality 6th man is every bit as important as a starting center. I have been loud in my desire to go after Tyreke, but that is another discussion all together. Regardless of where you stand on that debate, getting a solid center that is a great fit, for fractions of what a high caliber center would cost, seems like a smart move to make. SD is strong enough where the blazers are weak to improve this team, perhaps even significantly...
How would Dalembert fit with the blazers and how much of an improvement is he over Hickson? Is getting SD for fairly cheap and going after a quality 6th man a better option than securing a long term starting center? Will Meyers Leonard ever develop into a starting center for the blazers? Is there a better low cost option out there than Dalembert? Your thoughts?