Oct 30, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Phoenix Suns Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) dunks the ball over Portland Trail Blazers forward Mason Plumlee (24) in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
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Phoenix Suns veteran big man Tyson Chandler has hit the rumor mill recently and it seems as if Blazers General Manager Neil Olshey has taken notice. Could he improve the Blazers’ 28th ranked defense.
ESPN’s Marc Stein recently quoted that Portland has been “tracking” Chandler in an effort to shore up some of their lack-luster defensive woes.
Rim protection has been emphasized with coach Terry Stotts’ conservative pick and roll scheme. It relies on the guard defender to jump over the screen while maintaining the handlers hip. The big man defender is then required to drop back (to protect the rim), allowing the mid range shot while stunting the handler until the guard defender recovers. This is where CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard have struggled to help the defense.
Jan 5, 2017; Portland, OR, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young (0) drives to the basket on Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum (3) during the first quarter of the game at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
The two perennial all-stars’ defense has resulted in major breakdowns from the perimeter. Their miscues require the other three defenders to do a whole lot more than usually necessary. They are trying hard, but in terms of technique (Lillard) and physical tools (CJ), they lack the ability to navigate screens. This results in the rim protector in an awkward 2v1 situation.Also, the help defenders must do more than they should which could result in open shooters, backdoor cutters, etc. Think about this, and how it occurs roughly 11-12 times a game. That’s 10.4 points per game conceded.
Lillard’s first game back saw the team allow 109 points (to the Lakers). Time will tell whether Stotts will keep the back court starting together due to their defense. He may bring CJ off the bench but stagger the minutes so CJ maintains his 35mpg. This would also improve Evan Turner’s ability on the floor, as he could become the second ball handler on the floor. Starting Allen Crabbe has shown to be much more flexible where they can be more ‘switchy’ with Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless. AC is able to temporary switch onto a 6’8″ wing/big without a catastrophe occurring, while CJ and Dame would cause a colossal breakdown.
Nov 2, 2016; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) drives the ball against Phoenix Suns center Tyson Chandler (4) during the second half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The Suns defeated the Trail Blazers 118-115 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Chandler Could Bring Veteran Experience to Our Young Team
Mason Plumlee currently ranks at 51% defensive field goal percentage to Chandler’s 51.1%. That may come as a surprise to many. But taking in the larger sample size of the past 3 years, Chandler would simply be more proficient in Stotts’ conservative scheme.
He has a longer frame. There would be a veteran presence in the Locker room that this Blazer roster desperately needs. Besides Chief, there is no other defensive veteran that can lend another strong voice to this Blazer roster that is sick of hearing about their woes.
Can we Sign?
Chandler still has 3 years, $39 million left (including this year) on his contract. But taking in the fact of the ‘sticker shock’ the league is experiencing, this might be the perfect move. He may be 34 years old and past his prime, but his rim protection, leadership and vocal presence could prove pivotal. And at the end of the day, we just need to improve our defense.
He is still able to run and jump, catch and finish, while protecting the rim effectively. Although the perimeter defensive issues will still persist, this would at least look to plug the hole while still retaining the tremendous offense of our backcourt. This comes down to pride, pulling up their shorts and knuckling down to the gritty details to get better. However, that’s not without saying that adding a seasoned defensive anchor could ‘rub off’ on the rest.
It may not be the flashy move that Rip City fans desire in order to ‘move the needle.’ Unless they want to part with a key piece (CJ, Hark, etc) in a move for Paul Millsap, Brook Lopez, Nerlens Noel or Hassan Whiteside. In other words, an incremental move for a guy like Chandler may be inevitable.