Dallas Mavericks: What Does Elton Brand Have Left in the Tank?

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Dallas Mavericks: What Does Elton Brand Have Left in the Tank?
Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Elton Brand used to be a dominant force down low; now he's just a shell of his former self. However, he still has enough left in the tank to do wonders for the Dallas Mavericks bench.

At the beginning of his career with the Bulls and then deep into his time with the Clippers, Brand was nearly a steady 20 and 10 guy. He averaged over 18 points and nine rebounds in his first eight seasons in the NBA, garnering a pair of All-Star appearances in that stretch.

In the 2007-08 season, he ruptured his Achilles tendon, and he hasn't been the same since. He's dealt with knee issues, shoulder pains and everything in between. His leg issues have taken away all of his explosiveness around the basket, and has forced him to ground his game.

He hasn't averaged more than 15 points since 2007, and he was only able to grab seven boards a contest last season in limited action.

That leaves the question of what exactly does Brand have left to help out the Mavs?

A lot, actually.

The former 76er may be flightless, but his game isn't gone. He's still a crafty player around the basket and uses a number of post moves to put up buckets.

Even during his injury plagued run, Brand has still managed to average over 11 points a season. And over the last four years he's done so while playing under 30 minutes a game, very solid for that frame of time.

But where he used to excel, and still does, is on the boards.

How many points a game do you expect Elton Brand to average next season?

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Brand is a rebounding monster. He's the kind of guy who—even if he's having a terrible game offensively—will stuff the stat sheet because of his dogged rebounding style. He's always in the right position blocking out, and he's aggressive on the offensive glass as well. Brand has ranked in the top 10 in the NBA for offensive rebounds eight times in his career, including as recently as 2010-11.

He's also an excellent defender. He uses his big body well on the block and does a great job of keeping premium position in the paint when defending. Even with his limited mobility, Brand still ranked sixth in the NBA last year in overall defensive rating.

His defensive skill will be often put to use when the Mavericks come up against offensively skilled 4s like Kevin Love and Pau Gasol.

However, Brand's biggest asset lies in the fact that he finally gives the Mavs a skilled backup for Dirk Nowitzki.

Nowitzki has never had a true complement off the bench, and it's forced him to log long minutes throughout his career. Brand should be able to help Dirk ease down his minutes, all the while providing steady production on both ends of the floor while Nowitzki is resting.

Even better for Dallas, the Mavs are only paying Brand $2.1 million of the $16.1 million he's owed in 2012-13, thanks to the amnesty process.

Brand may not be the All-Star he once was, but he'll still be an extraordinarily effective—not to mention cheap—bench player.

Expect Brand to put up 14 points and eight rebounds a game for Dallas this season.

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