When it comes to explaining things in basketball, one of the go-to procedures is comparing one thing to another thing. You know of what I speak. Some really good-shooting, kinda tall college white guy is definitely the next Larry Bird, unless people think he’ll be too slow for the NBA in which case he’s Adam Morrison. This year’s Miami Heat might be the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls or they might be the 2003-04 Los Angeles Lakers. Pape Sy is our generation’s Mouhamed Sene. You get the drift — framing things with comparisons makes them easier to understand. It’s human nature, and since NBA players are ostensibly humans, they do this sort of thing too.
Take, for instance, Dirk Nowitzki paying his new teammate Tyson Chandler the greatest warm fuzzy he has ever received. This comes from the Dallas Morning News:
Dirk Nowitzki threw out some high praise for Tyson Chandler on Sunday after a brief practice.
He compared Chandler’s impact on the Mavericks to Kevin Garnett’s when he joined the Boston Celtics a few years back.
“It’s almost like when KG went to Boston,” Nowitzki said. “I don’t think Ray Allen or Paul Pierce were great defenders before KG got there, but KG with his energy and influence and high octane kind of changed the whole mentality of the defense.”
Oh, no bigs. Tyson Chandler’s impact on the Mavericks is simply that of when one of the greatest individual and team defenders of all-time joined a team, instantly made them title contenders and then led them to an NBA championship while winning Defensive Player of the Year and being named first team All-NBA, All-Defensive and a starter in the All-Star Game. That is all.
But really, Dirk’s not totally crazy. Last season, the Mavericks were a middling defensive team, giving up 106.3 points per 100 possessions, good for 12th in the league. This year, they’re up to seventh and they’re only allowing 102.3 points per 100 possessions. And that’s for the whole team. When Chandler’s on the court, the Mavs are giving up only 100.3 points per 100. Not quite 07-08 Garnett statistics, but still pretty good. Pretty, pretty good.
So yes, the Mavericks are a lot better defensively this season, mostly because they added a seven-foot center who loves playing defense and rebounding. Now all Tyson Chandler has to do to fulfill the KG prophecy is lead the Mavericks to the Finals then do it again two seasons later, all while winning every defensive accolade imaginable. Child’s play.