DALLAS — Widely regarded as the defensive catalyst for the Dallas Mavericks’ 2011 NBA championship team, center Tyson Chandler will make his return to the franchise this upcoming season with hopes of picking up where he left off at.
The 7-foot-1 Chandler averaged 10.1 points and a team-high 9.4 rebounds as the Mavericks sprinted through the 2010-11 season en route to the first title in franchise history. He’s also credited with changing the defensive culture in Dallas during his lone season in a Mavericks uniform, garnering All-Defensive Second Team honors that year while anchoring the back line.
Chandler would continue to display his defensive prowess in New York by claiming the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award while with the Knicks, making his first All-Star team the following season and earning a spot on the All-Defensive First Team in the process. But it’s Chandler’s offensive abilities that Mavs owner Mark Cuban highlighted during a recent radio interview when discussing how the 13-year veteran will benefit the Mavs this season by joining an attack that also features 12-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki, 2-guard Monta Ellis and new addition Chandler Parsons.
“He rolls hard,” Cuban said while highlighting Chandler’s pick-and-roll abilities during an interview last week with 105.3 FM The Fan. “And when you roll hard and you can catch and finish, then the defensive team has got to respect that and it will open things up for Dirk. It will open things up in a big way for Monta.”
Before migrating from Big D to the Big Apple while joining the Knicks, Chandler set a franchise record by connecting on 65.4 percent of his shots from the field during the Mavs’ championship chase. He will now try to replicate that production when he replaces last season’s starting center, Samuel Dalembert, who was included in the six-player trade with New York that brought Chandler back to Dallas this summer.
Last season, Dalembert started 68 of his 80 appearances, averaging 6.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.2 blocked shots a game. He connected on 56.8 percent from the field as well, playing alongside Nowitzki and benefitting from Ellis’ attacking style.
By comparison, Chandler battled nagging injuries during the ’13-14 campaign and played in just 55 games, averaging 8.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. He also shot 59.3 percent from the floor, which was his lowest shooting percentage in five seasons. Now, while fully expecting a healthy Chandler to once again dazzle fans with his above-the-rim finishes, Cuban anticipates a rise in production from the center position this season.
“One of the things that started the whole thing was when we played the Knicks this past season, watching him and (seeing) how springy he was. I actually saw him at dinner that night in New York. I had gone out to dinner with some friends and I was like, ‘Tyson, are you fully healthy? Because you look like you’re ready to jump out the gym.’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ve lost some weight. I feel great. You know, I’ve got my spring back in my legs.’ And so that kind of led and was a precursor to the whole thing,” Cuban explained.
He added: “Sam, you know, towards the end of the season, Monta and the guys kind of knew where Sam could handle the ball the best, which is up high. Tyson can make those tougher grabs, and so he’ll take two turnovers off of Monta just by himself. When Monta is attacking the basket and Tyson is rolling, he’s going to have a drop-off point that he only really had with Brandan Wright in the game.”