Don't let night fall

Fuck freeing Darko—that was an ideological task. I'm happy for what's he shown us lately, but he meant more to me dead than alive.

Fuck freeing J.R. Smith—he'll land on his feet, even if he doesn't stick as a starter until three years into his career (before LeBron, the standard preps-to-pro timetable).

What I come to you with today, my friends, is one of the less comprehensible quandries currently facing all fans of exotic and mildly toxic NBA meltdown. I've watched him mire, rise, and now fear that, without reason, I am about to witness his downfall.

I don't think anyone needs the rundown of the virtues of Samuel Dalembert. Absolutely filthy, slighty spacey seven footer who is so much more necessary to the future of the center position than Young Chris. Went from nothing to something, dark horse draft pick who'd only taken up the game in high school, humanitarian and lo-fi tech geek, in retrospect the most hotly pursued free agent of last summer's class. Call him a stat-padder, but you don't start a "human pogo stick" for his sound interior defense. Ideally, he'd stand tall next to a rugged four; as fond as I am of Webber, it's not all that insane to insist that, in Iverson's world, the Kenny Thomas/Dalembert tandem made more sense.

Yet ever since Sammy's return from injury, the perennially stunted Steven Hunter has been holding down his spot in the starting line-up. Hunter's most salient quality as a player is an uncanny ability to imitate whomever's he's spelling and/or filling in for; with the Suns, he prowled and intimidated like an untutored Amare, and now with the Sixers, he's doing his best to approximate Dalembert's garbage man of lightning shtick. And while Hunter is no slouch in the athleticism department (and Amare and Dalembert hardly the Association's most deliberate creations) the effect is, if you'll pardon the connotation, a pale imitation of the realness.

I'm not blind to Dalembert's many inconsistencies, shortcomings, and lousy habits. Nor do I walk on my own grave shouting that a contract from Billy King is any kind of endorsement. If Darko has taught us anything, though, it's that still-developing players don't respond well to either contemplative time on the shelf or a purely experimental banishment from the rotation. Cheeks is one of the league's consummate class acts, hardly the flying scum that tried the same shit with Iverson a few years back; I have trouble beleiving that his acts are clad in malice or ego trippin'. Dalembert might be at a crossroads in his career that, quite frankly, doesn't make him as functional in the Sixers' "plan" as Hunter. But if that team wants to ever rise out of the bog of dread that ".500 and from the East" (made even more wrenching by Detroit, Miami, and soon Cleveland, fortifying their might), Dalembert needs to figure out how to gel with AI, Webber and Iguodala. That four-man nucleus at least makes you playoff worthy for the next few seasons. Rest your hopes on Hunter, or alienate Dalembert, and you're no better than the Celtics.

Then again, Philly could always cut its losses and move Sammy.


At 3/15/2006 1:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent thoughts on Sammy. I've always seen him as an inovator of the center position if he could ever get the oppurtunity. Living in Philly I have grown to hate what is the Philadelphia 76er's and the only good thing I've seen out of them was Samuel Dalembert. What is confusing is the lack of minutes he receives in favor or Steven Hunter, who lest anyone forget was apart of the trade with the New Oklahoma Hornets. Clearly Sammy has the defensive ability to be something special in this league, just look at Ben Wallace, but once that offensive set comes into play I think he may find a spot in the league were he can thrice, just not in a guard-oreinted offense such as Philly.

At 3/15/2006 1:14 PM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

i've always suspected that this was true, but hoped that it wasn't.

j.r. smith = deshawn stevenson

they even committed to the same college coach only to bolt for the nba straight outta high school.

At 3/15/2006 2:02 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

dalembert doesn't really have any post moves--most of his points come on dished-out dunks, oops, and putbacks. meaning he doesn't really even need a place in the offense, just to consatntly register on the radar of the team's ball-hawkers. considering that the mature iverson can and will flip it someone and webber's passing skills are possibly the best of any big man ever, sammy should have no problem getting 12-14 points a night as a matter of course. couple that with the double-digit boards he can get in his sleep and three responsible blocks, and i don't see why he's not, along with iguodala, the future of the franchise.

At 3/15/2006 2:08 PM, Blogger Brian said...

Id take Dalembert on my favorite team anyday. That guys a winner and doesnt even know it yet. If Philly management has the balls to create a winning team, they will trade Iverson and Webber and build around Iguadala and Dalembert, adding some D and shooters. Iggy and Sammy are young enough to really learn and incorporate some good team D into their game. Webber and Iverson are unwilling or unaible to add to their game at this point, and their trade value will be better now than at any point in the future. They can be traded for youth and the right pieces to create a top notch team in the east. As it is, the sixers will never be able to do more than barely make the playoffs. But Iggy and Dalembert give a chance at a future.

Secondly, cheeks may be a good guy, but hes a terrible coach. Really. And thats too bad cuz I always get a kick out of his resemblance to Moe

On the plus side, no matter what Philly does or doesnt do, they will never approach the loathesome state of the knicks and they can get their jollies watching Brown and Marbury like I do. The knicks are the most entertaining team this year without question. Watchin them is like when we were watchin katrina come ashore. You cant quite turn away, and the raw magnitude and dissaray is so staggering as to render all in gaping awe of the monstrosity.

At 3/15/2006 2:18 PM, Blogger emynd said...

You guys are forgetting how low Dalmbert's basketball IQ is. Sure the guy picked up basketball in highschool and that's pretty impressive, but you can fucking TELL he picked the game up in highschool because he is often doing really stupid shit when there's a basketball around. He's got tremendous upside, but right now, he's frustrating as hell to watch. His goal-tending to block ratio is probably pretty close to 1:1, he's good for at least two or three really bad shots a game (which isn't good when he only shoots around 10 shots a game and 4 of those "shots" are dunks), and can be a defensive liability.

Honestly, I love the guy, but he frustrates the living shit out of me.


At 3/15/2006 2:23 PM, Anonymous T. said...

webber's passing skills are possibly the best of any big man ever

I call foul on this statement. Well, me, Sabonis and Bill Walton. (Besides how tall is CWebb? 6'9" How tall was Magic?)

Sorry, resume your discussion of all things Haitian.

At 3/15/2006 2:26 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

they've invested sixty mill in him. . . that's what coaching is for. granted, the last few years' developing big men have kind of been like developing nations--a never-ending process that ultimately becomes a euphemism. still, dalembert's got the foundation of a serious, serious game, and all that's needed is for someone is to work out the kinks. defensive liability, sometimes, but it's not like he's a 2-guard--he's supposed to hold down the paint, and he's one of the league's foremost shot-blockers even if he stops gambling so much. and the shooting, well play him and make him recognize where his shots will come from. he does a fine job of it most of the time.

the main thing is that i haven't really heard anyone calling him a bad kid, or question his work ethic. if anything, he seems a little overzealous.

steven hunter has the worst goaltend to block ratio in the history of the nba.

At 3/15/2006 2:29 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

possibly. not def. brad miller's actually almost as good as webber in that department, which is not meant as a knock on c-webb.

when i say "big man" i mean "guy operating out of the post."

but if you insist on pressing me on it, sabonis is it.

At 3/15/2006 2:30 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

and e, i'd argue that basketball iq is relative when you're talking big men

At 3/15/2006 3:25 PM, Blogger emynd said...

He's just too quick and athletic for his own good at this point. He needs to learn to harness his powers before they destroy him (and the Sixers).

I kind've had dreams of him turning into a more athletic Hakeem and he doesn't seem to be on that trajectory anymore.

He's a defensive liability when it comes to playing one-on-one D with a legitimate post presence. He can block the shit out of pretty much anyone as long as it's not the dude he's supposed to be guarding.

Understand: I've got faith in his future, but right now he frustrates me because he's not what I want him to be yet.


At 3/15/2006 3:36 PM, Blogger BenSchwarmer said...

Dalembert as revolutionary? Isn't he just a non-pot smoking Keon Clark?

At 3/15/2006 3:37 PM, Anonymous White People Don't Know said...

i heard a story somewhere that when dalembert was a kid someone asked him if he could dunk. he was huge, but he didn't know if he could , because he had never had shoes and so never had the opportunity to try.

someone lent him a pair of basketball shoes, he found a gym, and stepped on the court. he tried to dunk, and immediately realized he should move to the us.

At 3/15/2006 3:38 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

they're have been some bombastic sentences written on freedarko, but have any of them ever matched:

He's just too quick and athletic for his own good at this point. He needs to learn to harness his powers before they destroy him (and the Sixers).

about his defense problems. . . how much time does a seven-footer really spend guarding legit, one-on-one basketball? the number of 5's that demand that kind of attention is slim to none. maybe i'm overstating this, but to me a rebound demon/shot-blocker who can cause problems for wing players is of more importance than some average flat-foot who happens who understand how to guard the opposing center, if he ever gets the ball.

At 3/15/2006 3:55 PM, Anonymous T. said...

I kind've had dreams of him turning into a more athletic Hakeem

Maybe it's just because I live in Houston and own the championship videotapes - but Hakeem once ran down Kevin Johnson on a breakaway to swat away his layup - and had a quadruple double in a game. I don't think there's very many players let alone big men who are more athletic than Hakeem.

Dalembert as revolutionary? Isn't he just a non-pot smoking Keon Clark?

It's funny 'cause it's true. Seriously - how many bean-pole, high-jumping, shot-blocking, no-offense centers are there in the league? Is Yogi Stewart still around? 'Cisco Elson still plays for Denver.

At 3/15/2006 4:09 PM, Blogger jon faith said...

Given T's subsequent detailing of Dream on defense, i was surprised by his omission of Hakeem-as-passer. I would rank Sabonis, Olajuwon and Divac as three of the best passing pivotmen of the last 20 years. (somehow a posting of exploring the relativity of positions in different sports springs to mind i.e. goalies as assist-minded centers).

At 3/15/2006 4:20 PM, Anonymous 412hater215 said...

I will forever love Sammy Dalembert for his ox-tail eating abilities (see: West African Health Festival, Clark Park, Summer 05) and he is indeed on the rise. Pot-smoking Keon Clark? I don't know if he rolls to the Uhuru reparations meetings.

Now as for his role and the Sixers' future...whoever said earlier that a developing player like Dalembert shouldn't be subjected to "contemplative" benching periods is correct. Which brings me back to a point that I make constantly: why is AI still around?

Does anybody realistically think that Iverson is going to bring a championship to Philly now? Hell no. Will he even get them a seed of 4 or higher in the East? On the strength, no. So if that's the case, and you got guys like Dalembert and Igoudala around- guys who have undeniable ASG potential if they develop right- why are you still running the AI game plan?

If AI is on your team, you have to run the AI offense. AI has to touch the ball all the time and Sam-Sam and Dre get his scraps. How do you get your future franchise to develop if they have to play in this rediculous system. How is Korver ever going to figure out how to create his own shot? How will John Salmons ever get any pussy?

At 3/15/2006 4:42 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

the sixers should trade iverson for a first rounder. and while this year's draft is kind of shitty, i seriously doubt they can do it next season, if nothing else because he'll start depreciating soon.

also i don't usually do this, but everyone needs to peep wpdk's extensive comment on yesterday's post.

At 3/15/2006 5:03 PM, Blogger c.j.e. said...

Desanga Diop (who's a 1/3 the player Dalembert is) is doing for Dallas what Dalembert could be doing for Philly: providing a serviceable shot blocker/rebounder while letting his teammates worry about putting points on the board.

Play Sam and the worst you get is a better (more offesively talented) version of Diop. That doesn't seem like too bad a prospect.

At 3/15/2006 5:17 PM, Anonymous T. said...

Given T's subsequent detailing of Dream on defense, i was surprised by his omission of Hakeem-as-passer

I think, especially considering the audience, that Hakeem -while undoubtedly a very good passer - didn't have enough style for me to remember him as a passer. I don't remember the little drop-off, under-handed passes to the cutter that Divac, CWebb, or Sabonis threw all the time. He wasn't clever.

And time for an admission - I'm an NBA bigamist. I grew up a Laker fan and was one through 2002 - but personal circumstances (including, but not limited to the organization that signs my paycheck) have had me switch my alligences to the Rockets.

So - my memory of the Dream is much hazier than a normal Rockets fan - I remember mainly highlights of him dismantling every center in the mid-90s - but more with ball fakes and up-and-unders - than with passing.

somehow a posting of exploring the relativity of positions in different sports springs to mind

Best shot blocking guard? Michael Cooper. Current incarnation?

At 3/15/2006 5:20 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

you took the future post right out of my mouth.

gerald wallace and josh smith.

sure, wade, kobe, pierce, arenas and t-mac when he feels like have it, but it's the almost the defining feature of wallace and smith's games.

that's why i'm mildly obsessed with smith, even though i find his funk unconvincing.

At 3/15/2006 5:22 PM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

smith's swagger is defective, wade is business-like to the point of looking like he's repressing it

At 3/15/2006 5:32 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Best shot blocking guard? Michael Cooper.

Reggie Lewis. That was a bad summer when he and Draz both passed.

At 3/15/2006 5:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting top picture of our recently deceased friend.

Reflecting our Serbian tradition "O pokojniku sve najlepse" ("Speak no evil about departed ones").

Nice touch. Or not?

At 3/17/2006 7:39 AM, Blogger Brown Recluse, Esq. said...

last night's numbers:

steven hunter: 20 pts, 7 boards, 6 blocks

sammy dalembert: 4 pts, 6 boards, 0 blocks

At 3/22/2006 12:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ugh, Desagana Diop. Three years watching him play for Cle and I never saw him put together two consecutive dribbles without kicking it away. 7 feet tall and shot 29% from the field last season.


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