In 2011, Tyson Chandler finished third in Defensive Player of the Year voting. In his lone season in Dallas, Chandler upgraded the Mavericks’ defense, turning it into a championship-worthy unit.
Since, Dallas hasn’t had anyone near Chandler’s defensive level.
The Mavericks have received just two All-Defensive team votes, and the selections were laughable anyway. Mike James got a (first-team!) vote in 2013, and someone thought Monta Ellis was a top-four defensive guard last season.
There’s no question a team with Dirk Nowitzki, Chandler Parsons and Ellis will score. But can Chandler get Dallas back on track defensively?
The Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup is loaded with scorers, but …
“I’m going to make them defend,” Tyson Chandler said, interrupting in the middle of the sentence. “We’re going to defend. You can score as many points as you want, but at the end of the day, defense wins championships and that’s what we’re going to do.
“Guys don’t have to be the best individual defenders in the league, but we are going to be a great defensive team. You have to do your assignment. We’re not going to take plays off.”
Chandler is going out of his way to assert his positive impact on a team’s culture, and I like what he brings (back) to Dallas.
But I’m not convinced Chandler can “make” his teammates defend, either by coercing them into giving greater effort or providing better rim protection behind them.
When Chandler left, the Mavericks’ defense went from eighth in the NBA at 2.3 points per 100 possessions better than league average to… eighth in the NBA at 2.3 points per 100 possessions better than league average.
The Knicks were a crummy defensive team last season and allowed even more points per possession when Chandler played.
In the year between, Chandler won Defensive Player of the Year. There’s no question he’s a good defender. But I think it’s fair to wonder Chandler, who will turn 32 before the season starts, can have the same impact at his age.
If the Mavericks are going to have defensive success, it will require a variety of factors – Rick Carlisle’s coaching, the effort of the team’s offense-first players and, yes, Chandler.
Is he still that elite defender? Yeah, maybe.
But the challenge is just as much on Chandler as his teammates to prove their defensive effectiveness.