DALLAS – The Mavericks need somebody willing to do the dirty work in the paint. It doesn’t take a Duke education to figure that out.
Elton Brand, a first overall pick out of Duke and former All-Star, basically announced himself as willing and able to play the enforcer role.
“I’m definitely going to have to anchor the defense, bring toughness,” the 6-foot-9, 254-pound Brand said. “I’m not proud of it, but I think I led the league in flagrant fouls last year. You’ve got to bring that. In order to win, you’ve got to do those kind of things, protect that paint.”
Actually, Brand led the league in flagrant fouls in 2010-11, but you get his point.
Truth be told, Brand sounded at least a little bit proud of his hacking history.
“I’m not ashamed,” he admitted with a grin. “No regrets.”
Tyson Chandler made sure the Mavs had a mean streak during their championship season. The paint wasn’t a fun place for the Mavs’ foes when Chandler was on patrol.
The Mavs missed that type of toughness last season. Brian Cardinal, aka The Custodian, was always willing to take off his warmups and deliver a hard foul, but he was a bit player.
Brand, whether he starts or comes off the bench, will play major minutes for the Mavs. He might not be a dominant one-on-one defender, but he’s a savvy team defender and a surprisingly effective shot blocker for his height.
“He’s got long arms and really good timing,” coach Rick Carlisle said, explaining Brand’s career average of 1.9 blocks per game.
The blocked shots are almost a bonus. Providing a physical presence is a requirement for Brand, especially when he’s playing center while paired with Dirk Nowitzki.
“Elton’s reputation, as I know him, is a man’s man in the paint in the NBA game,” Carlisle said. “He’s a guy that’s going to have his teammates’ back, but he’s going to do it clean without a lot of nonsense. That’s how you want to play.”
Brand prides himself in being that kind of guy.