Top NBA Players: #30 Tyson Chandler

Apr 18, 2012; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) gets a slam dunk during the first half against New Jersey Nets power forward Kris Humphries (43) at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

Tyson Chandler
Resume: 11.3 points, 9.9 rebounds (9th in league), 1.4 blocks, 33.2 minutes, 68% FG (1st in league, career best), and 69% FT… Team record in games played: 34-28 (2-2 without)… Playoffs: 6.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 44% FG, 60% FT, 1-4 record… 2nd Team All-Defense, 3rd Team All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year

About two weeks ago I talked about how nobody is a more destructive shot blocker and weak side defender than Serge Ibaka. Let me continue on with that point and say that Chandler is probably the smartest weak side defender in the league. Even though he isn’t a great one on one defender in the post (amazingly apparent to anyone who watched what Pau Gasol did to him in the Gold Medal Game at the Olympics), he’s a good enough communicator and a smart enough basketball player to win the Defensive Player of the Year, but not make 1st Team All-Defense. Wait, what?

Yes, Tyson Chandler was the Defensive Player of the Year but 2nd Team All-Defense, which proves that so-called experts and analysts really have no effing idea what they are doing. I mean, isn’t that just common sense? How does that get screwed up? And let me just ask, how does Dallas screw things up and not re-sign Tyson Chandler before last season, just to take a flier on potentially signing a wishy-washy superstar the following season? Come on now, Mark Cuban should’ve known better than this. Didn’t he watch the entire postseason run? Didn’t he see that other than Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler was without question the most important player on the Dallas roster? You can’t just substitute in any other center for Tyson Chandler and expect Dallas to still win the title. Does Dallas make the finals with Roy Hibbert at starting center instead of Tyson Chandler? Hell no. What about Al Jefferson? Maybe, but it’s impossible to know for sure. What we do know for sure is that Chandler transformed the Mavericks into a title contender. Just take a look at what Dirk Nowitzki thought about Tyson Chandler:

“His positive energy, his defense I think is really what turned this whole thing around and what really won us the playoffs. Every big game down the stretch we did it with defense.”

That is an actual quote from Dirk Nowitzki talking about Tyson Chandler’s impact on the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 postseason. Pretty high praise from a guy who had every reason to feel like he was the cats pajamas after slaying the Miami Heat and their Big Three in the NBA Finals, to cap off a 2 month run of unbelievable basketball brilliance. Dirk gave a lot of the credit to Chandler, the man in the middle, the anchor of a defense that slowed down three of the NBA’s best (Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and LeBron James) en route to an NBA Championship.

Without Dirk the Mavericks wouldn’t have been able to sniff the Larry O’Brien Trophy if it was doused in Ben-Gay and gasoline, but it became very apparent that this season Dallas was missing a vital piece to the championship puzzle. Maybe the departures of JJ Barea, Peja Stojakovic, and DeShawn Stevenson had something to do with it, but if I were a betting man I’m taking the imaginary 5/1 odds on the “Tyson Chandler’s effect on a team is a little more profound than we might know of” option.  We know for sure that Chandler is the basketball version of the quarterback of the defense not just for Dallas in the 2010-11 season, but also for the defensively much improved New York Knicks this past season.

Remember, we’re talking about a Knicks team that had Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, JR Smith and Baron Davis on the roster. You could ask the question who the hell were those four guarding, but a better question is who the hell are they even interested in guarding? Chandler was the security blanket and the biggest reason the Knicks didn’t look like a Rucker Park team’s defense on a nightly basis, and he’ll need to keep that up this year after the Knicks have added Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Marcus Camby and Rasheed Wallace (at a combined age of 154 years old). Chandler knows his role. He fits his niche well. He’s going to catch a few lobs, slam home a couple of tip-in dunks, block/alter quite a few shots, and most importantly light a fire under guys that you wouldn’t exactly say are lock down defenders. Can’t we get a statistic for that?