Someone has been lost in the media storm that has surrounded Rajon Rondo vs. Rick Carlisle, Monta’s struggles, and Dirk showing his age. Someone has begun to be overlooked. It’s funny, because he’s clearly the most important member of the Dallas Mavericks.
That someone is Tyson Chandler.
On the season, Chandler is averaging 10.1 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He’s the Mavs’ best rebounder by over five rebounds per game (Dirk is second on the team at 6.0 rebounds per contest). He’s the team’s blocks leader by a large margin, and is seemingly Dallas’ only post player whose brain does not completely turn to mush on defense. His PER (19.8) is higher than any other Mavs starter: Dirk - 19.5, Monta - 17.2, Parsons - 16.5, and Rondo - 11.4.
Dallas is 3-4 in games Tyson has missed this season, getting out-rebounded 335-280 (out-rebounded by an average of 8.7 boards per game) in those seven contests. Four of those games saw Dallas concede more than 50 rebounds to the opponent. Dallas isn’t a good rebounding team even with Tyson in the lineup, but losing his presence in the paint is almost a death knell for this club.
However, Tyson has looked less than 100 percent since returning from a hip injury in early March. He’s scoring less as of late, only breaking double digits once in the past ten games since his return. Of course, Tyson’s game has never been all about his offensive prowess, but rather about defense and rebounding. Unfortunately, those numbers are down too.
Since his return, he’s pulled down an average of 9.3 boards per game, eclipsing the double-digit mark five times. His block numbers are holding steady at about 1.3 per game, but he seems slow to challenge shots at times, and the fact that his rebounding numbers are down about two per game is cause for concern.
If we’re being honest with ourselves as fans, we have to understand how crucial Tyson Chandler is to this team. He’s the only defensive presence Dallas has in the paint, he’s the only consistent rebounder, and he’s undoubtedly the biggest emotional leader on the team. With the way the Mavericks are currently constructed, a completely healthy Tyson Chandler is the only way this team has a chance to make any waves in the playoffs.