Mavericks Take Steps Forward with Chandler and, well, ChandlerAdded - Dec. 3, 2014 - Comments
When Mark Cuban, the effervescent owner of the Dallas Mavericks, makes bids on players and misses out on them, it makes news. He has done that before and he will do that again. Most notably in recent years was his pursuit of Dwight Howard, who did not sign with Dallas after leaving the Lakers but instead inked a deal with the Houston Rockets. Obviously the first priority in Dallas is keeping power forward (and former MVP) Dirk Nowitzki happy. But the Mavs have to also put a team around him. So Cuban went out and made a couple of deals to add pieces to the puzzle. Now, center Tyson Chandler and small forward Chandler Parsons are part of the starting lineup, and the Mavericks are sitting with a 15-5 record, which is sixth best in the Western Conference, although they are sitting in fourth place in the Southwest Division, which couldn't possibly be any tougher than it already is, with the likes of Memphis, Houston and San Antonio to contend with.
Because Nowitzki is not known as a bruiser at his forward position, the team had to have some kind of enforcer underneath. And that is the kind of thing Tyson Chandler has been doing for years. The veteran of 13 seasons in the NBA is a former Defensive Player of the Year, and this season he has been doing exactly what he's been noted for in his career – blocking and altering shots, and pulling down rebounds. In fact, his average of 11.8 rebounds per game happens to be fourth best in the league, and he has chalked up 4.3 offensive rebounds per contest, which is more than twice as many as any other member of the Mavericks. What he supplies is the kind of toughness that puts up a big "stop" sign in front of any opponent who wants to get brazen by driving down the lane.
Speaking of driving down the lane, that is one thing Dallas coach Rick Carlisle would like to see more out of Chandler Parsons, who was lured by Cuban with a $15 million-per-year salary. A 6' 9" small forward, Parsons is generally known as someone who can do many things with the basketball. But he's had a bit of a problem fitting in; critics look upon him as someone who has "spotted up" and shoots from the outside too much, and he actually agrees with that. Chandler is hitting below 41% overall, and he has made considerably fewer drives down the lane that he did last season, when he was a member of the Rockets. Since it is early in the NBA season, and they are also working with other new players, including point guard Jameer Nelson (who had previously spent a decade in Orlando), we are assuming that all of this team chemistry will come together sooner or later. And it's not like there are tragic circumstances; we noted their record already, and this is a team that leads the NBA in points per game (110.2). So there is still some upside, which should be a scary proposition for some of their Western rivals.