Iverson Keys Dalembert's Revival

Heading into this season, there were a lot of reasons not to draft Sam Dalembert.

  • He's a veteran on a team looking to find minutes for younger players.
  • He's a plodder on a team that likes to get out and run.
  • He's a defensive specialist with a coach known for his offense.
  • And he makes too much money, so management has been shopping him for forever.

But a funny thing has happened in recent weeks -- Dalembert has been getting 30-plus minutes on a fairly regular basis. And as my colleague The Professor points out, when Sam plays that much, he generates good numbers -- nearly 12 boards and over three blocks per game.

So I'm willing to accept the idea that Dalembert is worth playing when he's getting starter minutes. The question then becomes -- how often is that going to happen? After all, he's still competing for minutes with a promising youngster (Marreese Speights) and another highly-compensated veteran (Elton Brand).

Oddly enough, the answer is "The Answer." Dalember plays better -- and, by extension, plays more, when Allen Iverson is on the floor.

Iverson told Tom Moore of why he likes playing with Dalembert, saying, "He’s energetic and doesn’t have a selfish bone in his body. He’s always concerned with team goals. We have a great relationship because we played with each other for a long time and we’re real good friends off the basketball court." That relationship manifests itself in Dalembert's stats -- when Iverson plays, Dalembert's averages jump from 6.1 points, 7.3 boards and 23.2 minutes to 9.4 points, 11.3 boards and 26.8 minutes per game, and his shooting percentage skyrockets from 43.8 to 57.5, thanks to easy baskets created off Iverson drives.

Would I play Dalembert on one of my teams? Based on those numbers, absolutely. But I'd also pay particular attention to Iverson's status when setting my starting lineup.


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