Dampier: The unsung hero of the Mavs.

Fans of the Dallas Mavericks have a habit of dogging on the team’s center. Since the days of Shawn Bradley people have found plenty of reasons to complain about the person who is filling this slot. I’ve recently heard people say that Diop was the better center between him and Dampier and were very upset to see him go to New Jersey.

I want to offer a suggestion to these people: stop whining and watch the games. With Bradley, people said that anyone 7′ 6″ tall should be a more dominate player. They thought he should block every shot and get every rebound. If you really watched Bradley play you would see that his presence greatly affected the game. He altered people’s shots more often than he was credited for a block and was a decent rebounder.

These days Dampier gets similar criticism. People think he doesn’t put up big enough numbers, nor does he affect the game as much as he should. I disagree. Dampier has become a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end, even if his stats don’t look that way all the time.

Take a look at the game against Golden State on Wednesday. Dampier’s stats were decent: 11 rebounds and 3 blocks. But was more impressive was what happened when he was off the floor. He first went to the bench with 4:28 left in the first quarter. Up to that point the Warriors had ZERO offensive rebounds. He came back into the game with 6:00 left in the second. During that stretch Golden State collected EIGHT offensive rebounds. At the end they only had three total offensive rebounds when Damp was on the floor.

This type of influence in a game does not show up on a stat sheet. Dampier did not collect every possible defensive rebound when he was on the floor, but he took up enough space to keep Golden State away from the boards and allowed his teammates to pick up boards as well. It also kept Golden State from getting second-chance scoring opportunities. His presence was one of the big reasons the Mavs were able to dominate this game.

Dallas needs him to stay out of foul trouble for the remainder of this year if they want to have a chance to make some noise this post-season, not to mention getting in the playoffs in the first place.

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