Been a lot of talk recently about our guy in the middle. I've read various stories, ranging from "the pressure's gotten to him" to "teams have figured out the pick and roll." So I thought I'd throw out my take on the issue.
Yeah, Tyson's numbers have been down across the board. He hasn't been able to attack the glass offensively and defensively, he's scoring less, and he's picking up more fouls per minute. That said, there are some major caveats to be mentioned:
- Rhythm: He hasn't gotten the chance to get a rhythm going. He played the first game of the season, dominating Andris Biedrins (a great rebounder) on the glass. Then he sat out Phoenix due to an ankle issue. He was forced to sit out the home opener right after that. Then, he worked his way back into the lineup slowly, doing an impressive job against Andrew Bynum in one of his first games back. Fast forward a few more games, Chandler's beginning to get acclimated, but then he was forced to sit out another game at Denver. Truth is, Chandler needs to play more consistent minutes and consistent games before we can draw any conclusions. Keep in mind that he played in 45 of the first 46 games last season. I'm positive Tyson will snap out of this stretch as he plays 15 to 20 straight games.
- Small Sample Size: In his first 152 games with New Orleans, Chandler had a 13.6% offensive rebound rate, a 26.8% defensive rebound rate, and a 20.1% overall rebound rate. In 12 games this year, he's had an 11.2% offensive, 19.5% defensive, and 15.3% overall rate. I trust the 152 game sample a lot more than the 12 game sample. Chandler is 26 years old. If he was 36, I might be worried. If you believe a 26 year old, 7'1" player can have this much regression in rebounding stats without a serious injury, think again. At his age, with his talent level, probability dictates that his rebounding will recover as he plays more games.
- The Ankle: One of Chandler's favorite moves is the long tap out. It requires that he times his leap well, extends his body above everyone else on the floor, and basically wins a rebound that the other team had gotten position for. Obviously, it requires quite a bit of leaping ability. I highly doubt that Tyson's early ankle injury and his lack of tap outs this year are not related. As the weeks go by, as his ankle returns to 100%, the tap outs will return.
In sum, I'm not worried about Tyson. At all. Neither should you be. The Cresecent City Connection has been just as prevalent this year as it was last year (as the counter on the right sidebar attests to). If anything, I feel like Byron Scott has toned it down a little to explore other scoring options in the season's early stages. Give Tyson a couple weeks; he's 26, he's as driven a player as there is in this league, and he will bounce back.
In other news, Chris Paul was named Western Conference Player of the Month. In case you were wondering, he currently has a PER of 30.9. That represents a ridiculous 2.6 improvement over last year (when he posted the best PER by a point guard in NBA history) and the best PER of any player in the Conference. CP3 is shooting a career best 39.3% from three, getting to the line a career best 6.3 times per 36 minutes, and has improved his NBA best steals rate and assist rate of last season. This is all despite a career low turnover rate that's bound to get better as we get into December. Oh, and he's rebounding about as well as renowned Jason Kidd's career rebound rates.
Finally, check this video of Peja talking about his Charitabowl (from WWLTV). He's so awesome.