On Nov. 5, Tyson Chandler signed with the Los Angeles Lakers after clearing waivers on a contract buyout with the Phoenix Suns. While it was a signing that made much buzz around the NBA community, there were speculations of whether not he would be able to make a significant impact. Many jumped on the bandwagon early because they knew what he had accomplished in the past. The 18-year vet is a former NBA Defensive Player of the Year and All-Star. But after landing in Phoenix in 2015, he has had a drop off in both minutes and production. As he began the 2018-2019 season with Suns, he was coming off the bench, averaging under 13 minutes a game.
Since getting traded to the Lakers, he has more than proven his worth. He is playing increased minutes, currently 21.7 a game. But more importantly, he has helped turnaround a previously 4-6 team to winners of five of their last six.
The Los Angeles Lakers are 5-1 since they acquired Tyson Chandler. Their point differential before the acquisition was 0.3. It’s 5.3 in the six games with Chandler. pic.twitter.com/TVC6vyKVNk
— Andy Bailey (@AndrewDBailey) November 19, 2018
Starting center JaVale McGee has been playing very proficient basketball this season to the surprise of many. But up until the arrival or Chandler, he was the only center receiving significant minutes. On a team that had depth in the backcourt, they were just a frontcourt upgrade from getting over the hump. And that is exactly what Chandler has done.
Chandler made his presence known in his third game on Nov. 11 against the Atlanta Hawks when he blocked Trae Young’s game-winning floater attempt as time ran out in the game. While he has not had a significant contribution in terms of scoring production, he is giving the Lakers much needed interior defense and rebounding help. He is averaging 7.5 rebounds per game and 3.5 of those come off the offensive glass, allowing for increased second-chance opportunities. With his big body in the paint, he is also able to body up opposing big men and create obstacles for slashing guards. Chandler has aided in reducing the Lakers opponents points per game from 120 in their first ten games to under 108 per game in their last six with him on the team.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 16, 2018
With the two primary centers in McGee and Chandler, head coach Luke Walton has been able to reduce the minutes to the relatively inexperienced McGee as well as give opposing teams different looks in the interior. McGee is a more athletic floor runner that can use his length on both sides of the ball to cause problems for opponents while Chandler is mainly a defensive presence, with his size, physicality and knowledge making him an elite rim protector.
“It’s not about me and him,” Chandler to the LA Times. “I am not here to take anybody’s job. I am here to try to make the team better. My hope is to make his job easier, so he stays fresh so he can play throughout the year and give us the type of minutes that he’s giving. As well as me. The goal is for us to help each other, not go against each other.”
It has only been six games since Chandler showed up in Los Angeles, but it is clear the impact he has had on the team is greater than what the box score shows. The Lakers are finally coming into form, as Lebron is beginning to take charge offensively. Assuming McGee and Chandler can stay healthy and continue acting as a solid 1-2 combo in the paint and the young talent for the Lakers can begin to play with more consistency, the Lakers can be very lethal in the Western Conference.