Seasons: 8 (on roster for 9)
Stats: 8.1 PTS, 8.3 REB, 1.9 BLK per game
“No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are.”
“I’m seriously not crazy.”
“If you think Samuel Dalembert is the 14th best Sixer over the last 30 years, you can’t NOT be crazy.”
Above is the transcript of a conversation held in my head between “rational” me* and “irrational fan” me. Most fans that I know of were happy to see Slammin’ Sammy traded to the Kings around 14 months ago. I wasn’t among them, though my reasons for being unhappy were due to the underwhelming return. And if you don’t agree with me on that, you haven’t watched enough Sixers basketball.
*This entire post relies on the assumption that I am a rational person. This assumption may not be true. To assist me, Dante also put together a list. Sam was not on that top 30 list.
Sam had his down points. He didn’t know how to stop himself from goaltending twice nearly every game. He had no post game, touch near the basket, or ball control skills. He wasn’t the smartest player in the league. He was very limited. He didn’t have the greatest work ethic.
But be warned that underestimating the value of a decent NBA center is not in your best interest. Sam finished in the top 10 in blocks per game 5 times as a Sixer. In each of his 7 full seasons, he averaged at least 1.5 blocks. He averaged 8 rebounds per game as a member of the team. If you’re into more advanced things, he posted at least 2.5 defensive win shares in all of his full-time seasons as a Sixer. While he lacked skills, his length and decent mid-range shooting touch were useful – he shot over 52% from the floor. He started for 3 playoff teams.
A huge part of my argument for Dalembert is the length of time that he spent in the organization. He played for 8 seasons, starting in 7 if them, while in the organization for 9. 7 seasons of solid production from the center position is, for most teams, a blessing. In Sam’s case, it may not have been. Billy King gave Dalembert a terribly expensive contract, a contract that may have prevented the team from making transactions. A contract that would become impossible to live up to. For the sake of these rankings, though the contract was an obstacle, I did not consider it. While not a great value because of his contract, Sam produced at a scarce position for a long time.
We might remember him for the goaltending calls. We might remember for his one good playoff series. We might remember him for having hands that might as well be replaced by round paddles. We might remember him for his blocks or his philanthropy, especially towards his homeland of Haiti. We might remember for his diva-like attitude on the Canadian national team. There’s a lot to remember about Sam though, and a lot of it is good. That why I rank him the 14th best 76er of the past 30 years. And I don’t think I’m (that) crazy for saying that.