Fratello’s Fantasy Pick: Samuel Dalembert

The 25-24 Milwaukee Bucks have had an up-and-down season to date. Some nights their backcourt of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis combined with a mix-and-match frontcourt can look and play outstanding basketball. At other times the Bucks seem to lack talent, and their play borders on ineffectual.

On January 8th, in his fifth season at the helm of the team, veteran coach Scott Skiles and Milwaukee management made a mutual decision to part ways. Between December 1st and the time Skiles left, 11th-year, 6’11” C Samuel Dalembert had 16 games where he never touched the court. Under interim coach Jim Boylan, Dalembert has appeared in the last eight contests. And due to an injured Larry Sanders, Dalembert has even started the past two games.

Over this eight game stretch, the 2001 first round pick has averaged 21 minutes, 11.9 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.5 blocks while shooting 60% from the field and 87% from the line. Dalembert’s numbers have exploded over the last three games – 19.7 ppg, 11.7 rpg and 3.3 bpg in 28.7 mpg.

Dalembert has been around the league and is considered a good clubhouse guy. In fact, in 2010 he won the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for his work raising funds and awareness for his homeland of Haiti after the earthquake.

Over four seasons in Philly, from ’06 to ’10, Dalembert played in every single game and started all but two. In the ’07-’08 season he averaged 10.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg and 2.3 bpg in 33.2 mpg. When this veteran gets his run, he has proven that he can produce in all of the big man categories.

For Fantasy GMs looking to bolster their frontcourts, Dalembert’s production appears to be on the rise.

Gameday Dish: Kings at Nets

While the old adage “everything happens for a reason” applies to all walks of life, it may resonate more loudly with sports fans. For example, baseball fans in Philadelphia and New York have no choice right now but to believe that the failure of the Phillies and the Yankees to reach the World Series simply means that the Eagles and Giants are going to have better years than expected. How quickly fans adopt this mode of thinking merely reflects how quickly they experience the four stages of denial. Similarly, fans of the World Series participants might well be thinking that their success is well-deserved given the miserable starts of the Cowboys and the 49ers.

This brings us to the start of the basketball season. Bitter baseball fans throughout the country can now turn their attention to the NBA, thinking something along the lines of, “Thank God baseball is over just in time for the start of the hoops season.” An outside observer may view this as an obvious rationalization, but others might say it further supports the notion that everything happens for a reason. Perhaps more than either the NFL or MLB, the NBA does not need to rely on fantasy teams to maintain fan interest in the broader league.

This is not to say that fans of a particular NBA team are not as fanatical as other sports fans; it is more an observation that the various story lines around the league (this year arguably more than any other) and the individual star-power pervading the league make the NBA Finals interesting to its viewers even if the home team is not playing (it’s hard to make that same argument for this year’s World Series).

Right now the biggest star of the revitalized Nets franchise may be their new majority owner Mikhail Prokhorov, a Russian billionaire who has been the central character in one of the NBA storylines generating headlines over the past year. Prokhorov has voiced his ambitious intentions to make the playoffs this season and win an NBA championship within five.

While it remains to be seen if the Nets season will have a fairytale ending, they have already improved upon last year’s start. Prokhorov made it to Wednesday’s season opener along with part-owner Jay-Z, his wife Beyoncé, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek and over 15,000 fans who were treated to an exciting come-from-behind 101-98 win over the Pistons. The Nets made shots, came up with defensive plays and showed determination.

The Nets will need to keep winning games in order to sustain our interest and keep fans returning to the spiffy Prudential Center. Tonight Proky’s footmen will battle the Kings, another team hungry for a turnaround. We’ll see the NBA’s 2010 Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans make his first regular season appearance, having missed Sacramento’s opening night win due to a one-game suspension. Samuel Dalembert might also be reactivated tonight if the medical staff determines that his strained left adductor has healed. The Kings have added some new faces to their roster, including the fifth overall draft pick DeMarcus Cousins out of Kentucky and Carl Landry who returns from the Rockets. I’m anxious to see how far this young, talented team has come since Summer League.

Prokhorov is staying in town until Sunday afternoon so he’ll get to see the Nets in action against the Kings followed by LeBron and the Heat on Halloween. Ian Eagle and I have the call tonight at 7:30 PM EST on YES Network. I’m sure Marv will tune into tonight’s game from home to critique our performances and that I’ll hear all about it on Sunday when we’re back together for the Heat at Nets at 1:00 PM EST on YES.

In Union There Is Strength

In coaching we’re always preaching the theme of team. We try to get our players to come together as a team and play as one because in union there is strength. When a player is injured or in a time of need we ask his teammates to pick him up. There is power in team. There is hope in team. There is action in team.

Right now we need to come together as a team and help the people of Haiti. We’ve all seen reports on the tremendous tragedy they are enduring right now, only 600 miles off our shore. This tragedy is a challenge to us all. It affects us all. It has taken far too many of our teammates already and it’s threatening to take more.

The Haitian flag bears the inscription: “L’Union Fait la Force” which means “in union there is strength.”  Let’s pull together and help our teammates on the frontlines. Together we can make a difference. In union there is the strength to overcome.

In Philly tonight, Haitian born 76er Samuel Dalembert will present a check for $100,000 to the Haiti Earthquake Relief and has pledged to match any donations made by fans during the game. Both Dalembert and NBA Cares have partnered with Unicef to provide immediate aid to the estimated three million victims of the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

Alonzo Mourning traveled to the devastated capital of Port-au-Prince with Project Medishare to assist rescue workers and first responders. He and former teammate Dwyane Wade established the Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti. The White House Blog supports online contributions to the Red Cross – a quick $10 donation can also be made by texting “HAITI” to 90999. George W. Bush and Bill Clinton are heading up a new Haiti fundraising project as well.

Please give what you can to ensure that priority needs such as food, water, shelter and medical help arrive in time to save lives.

The Dalembert Foundation

The NBA Supports Unicef

Athletes Relief Fund for Haiti


Dalembert joined Game Time to talk about the situation back home and the work of the Samuel Dalembert Foundation. You can watch the interview here.