That’s right. All the hate, and I mean allllll of it, while warranted, is somewhat moot. The Bobcats need Tyson Chandler back in the line up if they want to be successful and sustain some level of established improvement. It’s not that he brings so much himself, it’s what he allows the defense to do. I made fun of the “article” I found via some website, via his website, which was a rehash of an article Rick Bonnell wrote. And I will give Rick credit here, as much as I give him crap, he was right about this weeks ago.
Never was this more evident than last night against the Phoenix Suns. The Suns as a team are 2nd in the league in 3 pointers made. Last night was no exception, shooting 15 of 34. The % isn’t that far off but the attempts are up from their season average of 22.
While the Bobcats are still tops in the league for opponent points per game, they are 2nd in opponent three point attempts. While a lower percentage shot a team that has a good night shooting threes can really hurt your winning ways.
It’s not that the ‘Cats are being killed from behind the arc, it’s just one more thing to keep an eye on. Gerald Wallace isn’t able to swat as many attempts. Stephen Jackson isn’t getting as many steals. They have to put a hand in the face of a guy like Jared Dudley or Aaron Afflalo. You can tell that Gerald is just worn out. He’s help D for the inside guys, he’s cover D for his guy, he’s fly in put your hand in his face for outside shooters. It’s no coincidence he was 0 for 6 with no free throw attempts entering the 3rd quarter Saturday versus Orlando.
So, is it bad defense or spread too thin? You have a guy like Raymond who is among lead leaders in steals per game. Gerald with his abilities on both ends and Stephen Jackson who is lockdown as well as a ball hawk. Boris Diaw? Hmm, never known for defense and as the guy sitting beside me on Saturday said “Has he put on weight?” Yes, he certainly has and he’s not defending the perimeter the way I’d expect from a guy who ran point in Atlanta.
Nazr Mohammed is only about 2 inches shorter than Tyson Chandler. He’s far less athletic and less adept at blocking shots and clogging the lane. Naz has one thing that Ty doesn’t: a presence on the offensive end. Nazr can hit shots and play with his back to the basket, he can stick with an offensive rebound to find the best way to score it. However, defensively, he is lacking and not glaringly, it’s the small things.
You won’t see Nazr or Diop, wait did I just mention Ghanna Diop? Side bar: Diop is the biggest waste of size in the NBA other than Greg Oden. DeSagana just can’t hack it at this level. He had strong years on Dallas as that extra body beside Dirk, Nash and Howard but the guy couldn’t play as a legit center in anything but a game with no one above 6’8″. I’m sorry, he just can’t.
Back on point: Mohammed and Diop don’t roll out on screens, they don’t cover the pick and roll particularly well and they don’t have a commanding prescence on the defensive end. We need Tyson.
Tyson Chandler has allowed guys like David West or Boris Diaw to freelance on D when the opposing power forward isn’t known for an outside shot. This frees up everyone else to create turnovers, fast breaks and all manner of chaos for the other team.
Other than the strong showing, it takes the foul trouble and the subsequent concentration on how the game is being called off the minds of players and coaches. Tyson may pull down 3 fouls before halfway through the first but the other 4 guys on the court aren’t.
This brings me to a larger point: We need a HEALTHY, CONSCIOUS Tyson Chandler. The guy who looked lost through the first 10-15 games can stay behind the bench in street clothes. The athletic jumping, blocking, put-backing, moving anchor or goalie as Bonnell put it, is what is needed.
This is a team of streaky players, passionate guys who have been strenuously coached and worn on since August. It’s a game of ebb and flow and part of this has to be a shift back to defense first and that means Tyson Chandler in the middle. Wins will come, have come but they will be easier and more interesting for the guys on the court if things shift back.
Please Tyson, be nice to your foot. I know we all feel stress but this reaction has worn out it’s welcome. Come back and show us why we traded our first overall and greatest known player for you. DO IT!