Opening Tip: By Mavs' standards, Dalembert a bargain

Tyson Chandler set the standard for Mavericks center during his one-season stint in Dallas.

But the standard is far from the norm. In the last four games, Samuel Dalembert has approached Chandler’s standard. For most of the season, he’s met the norm for Mavs centers.

From the Dept. of Damning With Faint Praise: A strong argument can be made that Dalembert is actually the best bargain among the Mavs’ starting big men during Dirk Nowitzki’s career. The Mavs obviously got their money’s worth from Chandler’s eight-figure salary, but that makes him the bang-for-buck exception.

Other than DeSagana Diop, who wasn’t overpaid by the Mavs until a few years after his part-time starting stint, Dalembert is by far the cheapest starting center the Mavs have had next to Nowitzki. And Dalembert’s numbers stack up pretty well to his predecessors’.

The list of big men who have played with Nowitzki sticks out like a sore thumb (showing their seasons as the Dirk era Mavs’ primary starting center):

Shawn Bradley

1998-99: 8.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.2 bpg, .480 FG ($6.75 million)

1999-00: 8.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.5 bpg, .479 FG ($7.56 million)

2000-01: 7.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.8 bpg, .490 FG ($8.37 million)

Mavs memories: The 7-foot-6 Bradley blocked a bunch of shots, but you’ll find many more examples of him ending up on the wrong end of at-the-rim highlights on YouTube. He’s best remembered for being posterized and a lot of painfully awkward offensive possessions.

Juwan Howard

2001-02: 12.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 0.5 bpg, .462 FG ($18.75 million)

Mavs memories: He was only a center in the wacky world of Nellie, and even then only for a little more than half of the season before he got shipped to Denver as part of a massive deadline deal. Pairing a young Dirk with Howard proved that Nellie really didn’t care a lick about interior defense.

Raef LaFrentz

2002-03: 9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg, .518 FG ($7.27 million)

Mavs memories: It took a little more than a year for Nellie to go from envisioning LaFrentz as the key to competing with the Lakers to realizing he was a bad contract Dallas needed to dump. The Mavs actually got some value when they got rid of him, taking Antoine Walker off the Celtics’ hands and flipping him for Jason Terry a year later.

Erick Dampier

2004-05: 9.2 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .550 FG ($7.7 million)

2006-07: 7.1 ppg, 7.4 ppg, 1.1 bpg, .626 FG ($9.63 million)

2007-08: 6.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg, .643 FG ($10.59 million)

2008-09: 5.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 1.2 bpg, .650 FG ($11.55 million)

2009-10: 6.0 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .624 FG ($12.12 million)

Mavs memories: They let Steve Nash go so they could sign this stiff?! Dampier was a more expensive, much less intense version of Kendrick Perkins. At least his contract included a goodbye gift, as the Mavs parlayed his fully nonguaranteed final year into Chandler.

DeSagana Diop

2005-06: 2.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.4 bpg, .470 FG ($1.85 million)

Mavs memories: Did you forget that Diop started more games than Dampier during the Mavs’ first Finals season? The Mavs’ mistake with Diop occurred a couple of summers later, when they gave him a five-year deal for the full midlevel, somehow suckering Charlotte into trading for him after a couple of months of huffing and puffing.

Tyson Chandler

2010-11: 10.1 ppg, 9.4 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .654 FG ($12.6 million)

Mavs memories: He didn’t stay long, but he’ll always be loved in Dallas. Chandler was the final piece to the Mavs’ championship puzzle.

Brendan Haywood

2011-12: 5.2 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 bpg, .518 FG ($7.62 million)

Mavs memories: Haywood played a key role as a backup during the Mavs’ march through the West playoff bracket in 2011. But he was so underwhelming as Chandler’s replacement that the Mavs used the amnesty clause on him so they could sign Chris Kaman. Dallas is paying Haywood more than Dalembert this season.

Chris Kaman

2012-13: 10.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 0.8 bpg, .507 FG ($8 million)

Mavs memories: He had the ugliest .500 beard, and his poor defense was a major reason those whiskers grew so long. Kaman and coach Rick Carlisle don’t exchange Christmas cards.

Samuel Dalembert

2013-14: 6.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 1.1 bpg, .590 FG ($3.7 million)

Mavs memories: If he keeps showing up like he has during the Mavs’ winning streak, his oversleeping incidents will be forgotten. He doesn’t seem so bad compared to most of the other big men in recent Mavs history.