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Position Grades – Center

Position Grades – Center

While the NBA postseason continues, the Dallas Mavericks will be spending majority of the offseason making transactions to make Dirk and company a title-contending team. Looking at the roster, the center position needs improvement for the 2014-2015 season.

The first stat that pops out instantly to me is that Dallas ranks second in the league in field goal percentage at 58%, behind only the L.A. Clippers. Also, the Mavs’ big men placed third in the league for averaging 5.5 offensive rebounds. Samuel Dalembert, Brandan Wright, and Bernard James also managed to rank 6th in both offensive and defensive efficiency in the league. But the main concern for the centers this season was defensive rebounding. Dallas grabbed a total of 787 rebounds a game, which ranked them 16th in the NBA. In comparison, the division-rival Spurs and Rockets recorded over 900 total rebounds this season.

So let’s go more in-depth and analyze how the Mavs’ big men performed this season.


Samuel Dalmebert:

The main goal on Mark Cuban’s agenda during the 2013 NBA Free Agency Period was to lure Dwight Howard to Dallas. But unfortunately, Dwight Howard decided to “take his talents to Houston” to play alongside James Harden. Putting all the energy and effort into signing Howard backfired and left Cuban with very few options left at the Center position. With slim market pickings, Cuban had to decide between Dalembert and Andrew Bynum.  I personally felt like Bynum was a risk to this team, so Dalembert was the more logical decision.

The moment Dalembert joined the team, I was quite skeptical of how he would matchup against the likes of Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard and Deandre Jordan in the Western Conference.

Dalembert had a roller coaster season. The dark days of Sam surfaced around November where Carlisle temporarily removed him from the starting lineup for missing gameday shootarounds on multiple accounts this season.

Dalembert finished the season averaging 6.6 points per game, 6.8 rebounds a game, and 2.1 blocks per game. He also had a career-high average field goal percentage (.585).

Sammy D isn’t a consistent double-double caliber center like he should be. He isn’t the most athletic guy anymore considering that he just turned 33 years old. Dalembert is a decent offensive big man, shooting 58% from the field and 74% at the line. But he has the tendency to drop easy passes in the paint which leads to turnovers.

With one partially guaranteed year left on his contract, the likelihood is Dalembert returns next season, but could be dealt in the right deal to improve the roster. If Sam is still on the team, the coaches need to work on conditioning and foot work this summer. Also, Sam needs to do a better job of boxing out on defense to prevent opposing teams grabbing offensive rebounds.

Grade: C+


Brandan Wright:

Brandan Wright is arguably the most improved player on the Mavericks roster this season. I really didn’t see the potential that Wright was capable of until this year. At the beginning of the season, Wright suffered a shoulder injury which forced him to miss the first 23 games of the season. In Wright’s first game back against Milwaukee, he scored 19 points and grabbed 6 boards off the bench in 19 minutes.  From that point, Wright shined off the bench.

B-Wright averaged a career-high 9.2 points a game and 4.2 rebounds a game in 18.2 minutes this season, a high efficiency level that was second on the team only to Dirk Nowitzki. Wright also averaged a phenomenal 67% shooting from the field in 58 games played.

In my opinion, Wright is just one of those athletes that you NEED to have coming off the bench. He isn’t versatile in terms of scoring the basketball, but his 7-foot-5 wing span and 36 inch vertical leap makes him an effective finisher around the rim. The Wright-Devin Harris tandem on the court is lethal on offense. It seems like Harris always knows where Wright is on the court for some spectacular alley-oops.

The Mavs coaching staff should work with Wright to improve his defensive skill set, primarily his on-ball defense and crashing the boards.

Brandan still has one year left on his 2-year $10mil contract, so it’s great to know that we don’t have to worry about him possibly signing to another team this offseason.

Grade: A-


Bernard James:

I’ve always been a fan of Bernard James since I live in Tallahassee, Florida and watched him play college basketball at Florida State University. When he was drafted in the second round in 2012, I felt that he would have the chance to make Dallas a better team defensively as a powerful shot blocker coming off the bench. Unfortunately, Coach Rick Carlisle didn’t see room for James in the regular rotation this season. Therefore, “Sarge” only averaged a measly 5 minutes a game this season. He averaged under a point and 2.8 boards a game.

James spent six years serving in the United States Air Force, becoming a Staff Sargeant. He is now 28 years-old, approaching his third season in the NBA. James’ rookie contract expires, therefore becoming a Restricted Free Agent this offseason. There won’t be any major bidding wars for the third string center and he’ll likely be at the end of the line in terms of Dallas’ free agent priority.


The more important issue is his age. James, already two years in the NBA is at the average age players hit their prime. Just to mention, Sarge had a 38 point and 18 rebound performance when he was sent to the D-League for a game this year. So he is capable of being a decent role player, but perhaps will receive that opportunity elsewhere.

Grade: C



The Mavericks will have to put into thought if Sam Dalembert should be dealt to free up cap or bring in some valuable assets. I think the best route is to ship Dalembert in return for a more consistent double-double type player to strengthen the front court. Also, with no first round pick in the 2014 draft, the prospects at the Center position is not that great. A couple of mock drafts only have one Center being selected out of the first round.

Here are my four key centers who will become free agents this summer:

  • Greg Monroe- Detriot Pistons
  • Marcin Gortat – Washington Wizards
  • Spencer Hawes- Cleveland Cavaliers
  • Channing Frye- Phoenix Suns



Photos courtesy of AP Photo/Ben Margot; AP LM Otero; Associated Press

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