Meeting with the coach in Orlando. Showing up for team workouts at PCOM. A new attitude, a new work ethic. Will the new and improved Sam Dalembert show up for 82 games, or will he backslide? We'll try to sort it all out after the jump in today's portion of the Projecting 2010 Series.
Defense first. Defense, defense, defense. And some more defense. If this team is going to have a calling card. If they're going to not only make the playoffs, but make noise once they get to the playoffs, it's not going to be because the Princeton Offense turned them into an elite offensive team, it's going to be because their defense absolutely stifled their opponents. The PO is there to move them from a passable offensive team to a decently effective one. That's all they should need if they run with their best defensive lineup for a majority of the minutes. Simply put, if Sam Dalembert is not on the floor, they are not an elite defense.
Coach Jordan has come right out and said this is a defensive roster and he will dole out minutes accordingly. He said time and time again that the PO can run with Sammy or around him. Everyone seems to be impressed with Sam's attitude, including Ed Stefanski. Randy Ayers was brought in to work the defensive system. All signs point toward heavy minutes for Sam as the anchor of the defense, a guy who will get opportunity baskets within the offense and clean the glass on both ends.
Still, I have a nagging feeling that this isn't going to turn up roses. Sam's offensive skills are lacking, to put it kindly, and he's just the sort of guy who can throw a monkey wrench into an actual offensive system. I just don't know how much of that Eddie Jordan is going to be able to stomach.
Sam should be playing as much as 35 minutes a night for this team. Simple as that, he's their best option at the five, really the only option who's shown the ability to rebound, block shots and handle a low-post threat down on the blocks. When all is said and done, though, I think he'll wind up at about 27 minutes per game, and I think we're going to be hearing about it in the press. Again.
Sam's numbers will be up across the board, but his minutes won't be up enough. I expect we'll see far fewer jumpers from the foul line, and more easy slams on alley-oops from both pick-and-roll and back-door lobs to the weak side. His FG% should really jump more than I'm predicting here, but you can't dismiss his track record of taking bad shots. They won't completely disappear.
You can say plenty of bad things about Sam, but one thing you have to admit is that he produces. Even when he's sulking, he's rebounding. Even when he's lamenting his lack of touches on the offensive end, he's swatting shots. Even when he's goaltending, he's intimidating. I firmly believe the Sixers will get production out of Dalembert, production that demands minutes. I'm just worried the other stuff is going to take those minutes away.
Thoughts in the comments, full series here.