Exit Interviews: Tyson Chandler
Tyson Chandler reflects on his 2014-15 season with the Mavs.
Year in Review: Tyson Chandler
After he signed with the Knicks following the 2011 title run, it felt like unfinished business on both sides. But a summer blockbuster with those same Knicks reunited Chandler and the Mavs, and there were good feelings all around. Don’t be mistaken, though: The move wasn’t PR-driven. Chandler can still very much play, as he proved this season. The worry when he played in New York was that injuries were quickly beginning to consume him, but the 75 games he played this season were his most since the 2007-08 campaign. Even at age 32, he’s still in supreme shape. What else would you expect from a player like him?
If there’s one word to characterize Chandler’s playing style, it would be inspired. The big man works hard every possession, often performing thankless tasks like performing several tough ball-screens per possession or crashing the glass to fight for a rebound with two or three opponents. But that’s fine by him. Players like Chandler enjoy the challenge.
More than 45 percent of his rebounds this season were contested, per NBA.com, meaning there was an opposing player within a few feet of him. That includes 3.0 offensive rebounds per game — his patented back-taps gave Dallas so many extra possessions this season.
What makes Chandler’s performance on the defensive glass so impressive this season is that he was also the primary rim protector and often played with teammates who don’t specialize in blocking shots. This means that not only was Chandler tasked with contesting every shot close to the basket, but he was also responsible for chasing down the board. It’s a demanding challenge. Nearly 65 percent of his rebounds this season came after a missed two-point shot, per NBA.com, and a whopping 53.7 percent of them were contested. He wasn’t awarded any favors.
Measuring defensive impact is easier now than it has been ever before, given the amount of technology that’s been made public by NBA.com and SportVU. For example, Chandler held opponents to 4.7 points below their season average field goal percentage from within six feet of the rim, a better mark than rim protectors like Andre Drummond, Marc Gasol, and DeAndre Jordan. Now, this credit doesn’t go completely to Chandler here, just like the blame doesn’t rest squarely on the other three players’ shoulders. Still, it’s one way to quantify the impact Chandler has around the rim.
Offensively, Chandler posted a career-best 133 individual offensive rating, per Basketball-Reference, and was worth a career-high 7.2 offensive win shares. Similarly, he posted a career-high offensive and overall box plus/minus, an estimate of the points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league-average player on a league-average team. Generally, this was a terrific season for any center, let alone one who’s 32 years old and in his 14th season.
Although it came in defeat, Chandler’s effort against the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 4 was incredible. He scored 21 points on 8-of-9 shooting and grabbed 17 rebounds, adding two steals.
For those who don’t remember that contest, it was the game in which Dallas soared out to a 42-25 lead in the first quarter before the Warriors put in a three-quarter blitz that resulted in a 128-114 final score. Things ultimately turned south in the fourth, but not before my favorite Chandler moment of the season.
He’d have none of that partying in the Oracle, thank you very much. Instead, he stared down the crowd and strutted back up the floor after throwing down a vicious alley-oop. That’s his way of sending messages on the floor — he’s going to prove he’s the baddest, toughest player out there, no matter what the game situation is. He provided a much-needed swagger to this Mavs team, similar to the effect he had in 2011. Sure, Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis carried the scoring load, Chandler Parsons and Devin Harris did the shooting, and Al-Farouq Aminu brought the energy. But it was Chandler who was the heart and soul of this team.
Once again, Chandler is an unrestricted free agent after one season with the Mavs. This time around, however, he’s not in his prime in terms of age or perceived athleticism, although he’s coming off his healthiest season in nearly a decade. That will likely mean Chandler’s list of suitors will be slightly shorter and he might not be searching for an elite player. We won’t know that until free agency begins, ultimately.
The vibe coming from both Chandler and the Mavs before the season began was that Chandler would be a Maverick in the future, and both sides are surely still hopeful that that can be the case. But business is business in the NBA, and sometimes things don’t work out. What will happen with Chandler remains to be seen, but he’s the type of player who will always be welcome in that locker room.
Chandler will be 33 on opening night and in his 15th season in the league, which normally would give us all pause, especially for big men. But for the most part Chandler remained both healthy and effective this season, fighting through various bumps and bruises along the way while still averaging a double-double and anchoring the defense. He can be a starting-caliber center for at least two or three more seasons, so long as his body cooperates, and perhaps even further in the future considering the shape he keeps himself in. There’s no questioning his effort on or off the floor, so I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’ll stay in playing shape for as long as he has a contract.