(Photo Credit: Mavs.com)
With just one game remaining in the Dallas Mavericks preseason, the time to trim down the roster to reach the 15-player maximum is drawing near. On Monday, Oct. 26, all 30 NBA teams will be required to submit their finalized rosters, exactly 48-hours in advance of their first regular season game to allow just enough time for players to clear waivers before the start of the regular season.
For the Mavs, who came into training camp with the maximum allotment of 20 players, the majority of the five necessary cuts are pretty clear, with forwards Brandon Ashley, Jamil Wilson and recently signed guard Tu Holloway being the obvious guys. They were all seen as longshots to make the final roster, playing limited minutes in the six preseason games thus far. Forward Maurice Ndour, who had a strong camp for the Mavs, will unfortunately be amongst the opening-night roster casualties, in part due to injury, after suffering a stress reaction in his left leg.
Consequently, the final roster decision will seemingly come down to either Samuel Dalembert or Tunisian center, Salah Merji to round out the three-headed monster at center and help fill the void left by the departure of Tyson Chandler (and the reneged DeAndre Jordan).
The 29 year-old Mejri, who played with Real Madrid of the Spanish League last season, has shown glimpses of promise. Utilizing his superior length and athleticism, despite his wiry 7-2, 245-pound frame, Mejri could be an effective presence for the Mavs on the defensive end of the floor. Offensively, he lacks any sense of a post-up game and his strength would be a major concern over a grueling 82-game season. However, he’s the type of above the rim big man that the Mavs sorely need, especially with JaVale McGee still rehabbing from a stress fracture that ended his 2014 campaign. But, don’t expect JaVale to be included in the roster cuts conversation. Despite his mental aloofness, JaVale possesses the most upside of any of the Mavs available big men and appears on track to be back on the court soon.
Enter Samuel Dalembert. In his first stint with the Mavs, Dalembert served as starting center, playing in 80 contests, while averaging 20.2 minutes, 6.6 points and 6.8 rebounds. While we can’t forget about the time he was suspended for oversleeping and arriving late to a team workout session, Dalembert overall provided a strong presence for the Mavs interior and was an important rim protector. He has size, (or had) health and experience in Rick Carlisle’s system working in his favor. Mejri has never played in the NBA and comes to the Mavs almost as an a 29 year-old rookie, and Carlisle doesn’t have a good history of playing guys with little to no experience.
While it’s anybody’s guess how the final roster spot will fill out, I’d have to give a slight edge to Dalembert at this point. With McGee on the mend, the Mavs need a reliable backup center to play behind Pachulia until he returns, rather than a project at center.
Mavs Projected 2015-15 Regular Season Roster