The value of a center

Watching Tyson Chandler score 13 points and pull down 16 boards in last night’s affair, two thoughts immediately came to mind: a) how greatly would the course of history have been changed had the Rockets’ offer of Jared Jeffries for Chandler been accepted? and b) is it ludicrous to even dream of young Hasheem Thabeet reaching Chandler’s level?

Nowitzki got the praise, but last night, Chandler was the difference, playing goalie in a zone that stifled Lebron James and performing his role as the roll-man in pick&roll’s marvelously.  Watching this Dallas team, the value of a center is so glaringly apparent.  Sure they run good defenders in Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion, but Josh Howard and Devin Harris were no slouches in that department either; having Tyson Chandler in the middle allows Rick Carlisle to run whatever scheme he wants defensively.

Is it so preposterous to hope Thabeet can assume this level?  Per 36 minutes, in his rookie year, 8.9rpg and 2.4bpg.  Per 36, Thabeet averaged 9.9rpg and 3.6bpg.  Both players had defensive ratings of 105.  (One could argue of course that Chandler was a mere 19-year-old but he had still been playing the game longer than Thabeet.)  The greater concern is the variable that can’t be measured.  From what I recall, Chandler always had a motor.  I’m not sure Thabeet even has in him the scowling intensity Chandler has had on display through these playoffs.  As I’ve been arguing, if you’re the type that prays, pray for Hasheem Thabeet because the realization of no single other factor on this team would have a greater impact on this team’s future.  Tyson Chandler showed that last night.

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