When you think of Samuel Dalembert what comes to mind?
Yes, that’s right. It’s goaltending. Sammy goaltends more than everybody not named Dwight Howard.
But maybe this year we’ll know Samuel Dalembert more for his scoring than we’re used to because of what the Kings are apparently asking of him (from Hoops Notes):
“In Philadelphia, I was asked to focus more on defense. But with the Kings, they expect me to play a more offensive role. I’ll be able to accomplish many more things with my new team,” he said in his adopted hometown Saturday as part of the NBA’s promotional tour in Canada.
While I think Samuel Dalembert is probably a lot better offensively then we know because of the way the 76ers used him over the past eight years, I’m not so sure this is a good idea for the Kings. Obviously Dalembert wouldn’t be the featured guy on most possessions.
Ideally, you’d like him to be able to hit a baseline jumper or be utilized on the pick-and-roll as the Tyson Chandler (remember that one year he was decent?) to Tyreke’s Chris Paul. You can take advantage of Sammy’s athleticism in a multitude of ways but the pick-and-roll would definitely be the way to go, especially with the way Tyreke sucks in the attention of the defense. Last season with the 76ers, Dalembert was one of the most efficient players in the league in the pick-and-roll.
According to Synergy Sports, Sam scored 1.21 points per possession last year while shooting 65.5% as the roll man in the pick-and-roll. This ranked him 18th in the entire league. Over half of his scores in the PnR situation (52.6%) came off of dunks. With Dalembert’s length and pogo stick legs, you can easily get him into space in the paint by running the PnR.
As you can see in the highlight, Sam does a great job of waiting on the pick he’s setting. When he gets there and screens the defender, he doesn’t immediately run straight to the basket. He makes sure to seal the opposing player before rolling. This little bit of hesitation on his part creates more space for the ball-handler. While it sounds like a very simple concept (and it is), it’s not something you generally see with a lot of big men.
The other way to get Dalembert into efficient scoring positions is getting him the ball on cuts to the basket. Some times these cuts are very short and small. It can be as simple as just waiting outside the key as a teammate drives to the basket and then receiving the pass as the defense gets sucked away from Dalembert. But he scored as efficiently as anybody in the NBA last season.
According to Synergy, Dalembert had a PPP of 1.40 on cuts to the basket, which was good for 38th in the NBA. He shot 73.7% from the field on these plays and 67.8% of his made field goals on cuts to the basket were dunks. Dalembert was involved in 711 offensive plays last year that ended in him attempting a shot, getting to the free throw line or turning the ball over and 151 of those were cuts to the basket. Other than offensive rebounding plays, he was involved in cuts more than any other play by a wide margin.
As you can see on the play here, he started out the possession with a PnR as Allen Iverson ran the play. Once he didn’t get the ball, he got into to position near the low left block and waited for Thaddeus Young to draw the defense before receiving the pass and dunking it home.
While Dalembert wants to be much more involved in the offense and it sounds like from him the Kings want him to be involved too, it seems like these would be the only two plays Kings fans should want out of him. He scored just 0.68 points per possession on post-up plays last year and only 36.8% of his shots out of the post. Check out his shot charts from the past two regular seasons:
The concept of him hanging out on the baseline or around the perimeter to knock down jumpers doesn’t seem very good. On a scale of Johan Petro to Bill Wennington, he’s much more Joel Anthony when it comes to spot-up jumpers than he is Nenad Krstic.
The idea of Dalembert being more involved offensively could simply mean the Kings are going to try to take advantage of his size, athleticism and length around the basket within the flow of their own offensive sets. Tyreke Evans was either in isolation or a pick-and-roll on more than half of his plays last season. Involving Sam to be ready around the basket for the pass when it’s there seems like a smart and potentially fortuitous situation for the Kings’ new center to be in.
You don’t necessarily want Dalembert to replace Jason Thompson because Thompson is clearly the better offensive option overall. But Dalembert’s numbers on the pick-and-roll and in cutting to the basket are significantly higher than what JT gave the Kings last season (0.96 PPP on 48.6% shooting and 0.99 PPP on 47.3% shooting, respectively).
If anything, the Kings can probably get a couple of cheap scores each game with the addition of athleticism in the frontcourt that doesn’t stay exclusively around the perimeter. Maybe Samuel Dalembert isn’t as skilled offensively as Spencer Hawes was but he can be used much more effectively in the flow of the offense.