No more "Oh my, Omer!" No more "if only Anderson could defend."
Just imagine for a second if Anthony Davis's new frontcourt partner was a former defensive player of the year, solid offensively, and brought championship experience to New Orleans. And this isn't some washed-up old geezer who will play micro-minutes; this is a player coming off one of his best seasons as a pro.
Chandler would bring the Pelicans a frontcourt mentor and defensive anchor while possessing the ability to play in an uptempo offensive system. He would give the Pels a jolt of energy and electrify the building with his passion and effort. And he would be the New Orleans' best center since, well, Tyson Chandler.
However, convincing fans that he has not outwore his usefulness requires stats and several videos to prove his verve. After all, he will be 33 by the start of next season and will command around $12 million annually for three years, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon.
That's a lot of digits to pay for a 14-year veteran. It seems guaranteed that Chandler will decline over the course of that contract, but that's the thing: he hasn't started to yet.
Last season, Chandler registered career stats and appeared in 75 games where he averaged 30.5 minutes per contest. He shot 67% from the field, just 5% below what DeAndre Jordan shot. Meanwhile, he hauled in 11.5 rebounds per game, his third best rebounding average in his 14 years as a pro.
Chandler also averaged 10.3 points per game, shot 72% from the free throw line (no more hack-an-Asik), recorded 1.1 assists per game (not that that's good), and 1.2 blocks per game. Those rate fourth, third, first, and seventh respectively on his all-time average list.
If you really want to be impressed, just have a look at how those numbers look in a per-36 matrix. That can be checked out at your pleasure at Basketball Reference.
Some other positives:
- The stats indicate that Chandler's foul plaguing problems from his days with the Hornets are well in the past.
- His free throw shooting has dramatically improved to a respectable levels.
- He played in more games last year than he had since 2007-2008.
- Chandler is now a consistent converter from the baseline and the occasional popped pick, shooting 46% from the 10-16 foot range.
- Chandler is strong, and able to bang with any of the bigs in the NBA, as shown by the video below.
The video, in which Dallas faces the Warriors, displays Chandler's veteran savvy, strength, and he's still slamming. While the Mavericks faced defeat in the game, he held Andrew Bogut to six points and eight rebounds while posting 21 and 17 from his end.
Chandler can obviously still play, and what he's lost with speed has been recompensed by smarts and shooting. And, obviously, he can still jam with some umph. He deserves a portly payday, but the Pelicans have a wealth of reasons to drop the dough for a Tyson homecoming that other teams don't.
To start, Chandler brings leadership both in the forms of experience, vocality, and mentorship.
His marvelous meander with the Mavericks to the Finals showcased his importance defensively but also allowed his vociferous, commanding voice of leadership to echo around the basketball. The Pelicans could use a weathered vet like Chandler to climb into the cockpit.
Chandler also has the body and game to play in a fast-paced system. And that's not me hypothesizing or speculating, that's proven. Last year, the Mavs were third in points per game in the NBA with Chandler compiling an amazing season.
But Chandler would also bring an intense, enthusiastic, loyal player to the Pelicans who was fully committed whenever on the court. No gimmicks, no weakness, just hard-nosed, radar-focused basketball. Last year, the Pelicans were missing the chippiness that usually comes with championship contenders and demonstrates loyalty.
If the Pelicans are looking for immediate wins and a reason for Davis to sign that $140 million contract, they'll have to spend the money elsewhere too. And while the small forward position is still an issue after this signing, it becomes less of one were Chandler to sign.
Tyreke Evans' primary vulnerability on defense comes from bigger defenders who can put him in the post or muscle past him. Chandler gives the Pelicans one of the best interior defenders in the game, who knows when to help and when to stay back. He's shown it through the years of great defense.
Additionally, Chandler allows Davis to continue to stay at his natural position. Since Chandler is a interior defender, and an elite one at that, Davis can roam and terrorize outside the paint. Offensively, his positioning is ideal and he can set great screens while being a threat on the roll. That will set up more opportunities for "The Brow" all over the floor.
The Pelicans should be willing to give up the greenbacks to bring Chandler back. Not only would he give New Orleans a defensive anchor, great rebounder, and dependable offensive contributor, but Chandler would provide a slew of intangibles that would improve the whole team.
Yes, Chandler's 33, but he's coming off a season that any 26-year-old would be proud to log. And even if he started to decline, don't underestimate the importance of championship experience. Norris Cole's coolness amid the frazzled faces of teammates while playing the Warriors proved important, and Chandler would further that effect.
If you're wondering whether the stats lie, just read what these Mavs writers had to say on Chandler. Bringing back Chandler to the Big Easy would be a sign to the league that the Pelicans really want to win now.
So, get the jerseys out of the closet and blow off the dust. Let's party like it's 2008.