By Myka Williams
There’s plenty to talk about in Dallas this holiday season, but let’s focus on the Mavericks’ newly gifted center, Tyson Chandler, who has taken a leadership role in Dallas after a winning stint with Team USA last summer. The 7-foot-1 inch center has provided a high level of energy and emotion that triggers a team who used a 12-game winning streak to complete its second best start in franchise history.
“The USA game helped him from a confident standpoint,” Mavericks General Manager Donnie Nelson said. “When you’re playing over there against that competition, you get a lot of games coming at you. When he hit training camp, he was ready to go.”
With his impact on the court, Chandler has guided this Mavericks crew on the offensive and defensive ends, alongside with seventh-ranked NBA scorer Dirk Nowitzki. After named the league’s MVP many times in his career, Nowitzki credits Chandler that honor this season— at least for now.
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“Tyson is the Mavericks’ MVP so far,” Nowitzki said. “For sure, he’s been the man.”
The California native, Chandler, has exploited his dominant presence on the hardwood day-in-and-day-out. This season, Chandler has posted four double-doubles, 10 games with 10+ points and six games with 10+ rebounds. He also collected 14 rebounds of his game-high (18 boards) in the third quarter of a game that set a franchise record for the most rebounds ever recorded by a Dallas player in a single quarter.
“I always want to get out there and make a presence with such a high-tempo team,” Chandler explained. “I want to make it difficult for other teams. Coach tells me when I don’t get calls, let that stuff go. It’s very important for me to stay healthy. I play with my heart, I play every second and I try to play every possession like it’s the last one. I will continue to do that.”
Despite of having a bad night, Mavericks’ guard DeShawn Stevenson talked about why Chandler makes a difference each time he is on the floor.
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“It’s his energy, the way he talks, his defensive presence and blocking shots,” Stevenson said about Chandler’s impact. “He does so many things that his scoring has nothing to do with it.”
With ninth-year veteran Chandler, his ability to add to the Mavericks explosive offense and distribute second chance points have payed off.
“I think he’s provided us in terms of just his emotions,” Nelson said. “Not to mention athleticism, those intangibles mean a lot. Kidd and Nowitzki have logged a lot of games. We needed a little punch in our front line. He really energizes our starting quarter. He gives us some easy baskets.
A (single) player doesn’t make a team, but Chandler’s versatility has propelled the Mavericks to compete in every phase of the game. The summer of 2009, Chandler could have stayed with the Charlotte Bobcats or ended up with the Toronto Raptors in a trade deal, after he was acquired from the New Orleans Hornets. But after Charlotte backed out of the deal to trade with Toronto, the Mavericks quickly went after the potential 2010-2011 All-Star candidate.
This season, Chandler has averaged 8.6 points and nine rebounds per game, but those numbers are not indicative how sensational the center has performed. With Chandler in the final year of his contract, Dallas may be willing to resign him to hone its offense.
“We know he’s here,” Nelson said. “We know we like him and he knows he likes us. Chandler, with his athleticism and versatility, gives us a real versatile position. You’re always looking for ways to make your team better. The one’s you’re looking for are for significantly upgrade reasons. We felt good about him this summer and it was good for our franchise.”