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Is Chandler as Important to the Mavs as Garnett is to the Celtics?

January 6, 2011 – R.S. De France

Can you really compare a future Hall of Fame power forward with a forgettable forward like Tyson Chandler?  Well, that’s exactly what Dirk Nowitzki recently did.

On TNT last Thursday during the San Antonio Spurs v. Dallas Mavericks game, which the Spurs only won 99-93 despite the absence of Nowitzki, Women’s Basketball Legend and TNT Commentator Cheryl Miller reported that Nowitzki claims that the Mavericks adding Chandler is as meaningful as the Boston Celtics adding Kevin Garnett.

At best, this comment makes Dirk sound delusional.

Even, Mavs owner Mark Cuban was a bit more skeptical, mainly about Chandler’s health.  Even though the medical staff assures Cuban that Chandler is ready to go, Cuban is rightfully skeptical.  In 16 seasons, KG only had 2 seasons where he played less than 69 games.  In 9 seasons, Chandler has already had 2 injury-plagued seasons.

No one, especially not a likely future Hall of Fame player like Dirk Nowitzki, should spout off insane comparisons like this.  Probably what Chandler, 7’1 and 235 lb., and Garnett, 6’11 and 220 lb., share the most are length and their wiry frames.

Their abilities and their careers cannot be compared.  Let’s see exactly why…

Tyson Chandler

9 yrs Pts Rb As Bl St FG% FT%
Career 8.1 8.8 0.8 1.4 0.5 56.3 61.8
’10-11 8.8 9.0 0.4 1.2 0.5 68.8 75.8

Kevin Garnett, “The Kid,” “The Big Ticket”

16 yrs Pts Rb As Bl St FG% FT%
Career 19.7 10.8 4.1 1.6 1.4 49.8 78.5
’10-11 15.0 9.5 2.0 0.7 1.7 53.9 82.4

On statistics alone, if KG had Chandler’s career numbers, he would have been nicknamed “The Discount Ticket.” And these numbers don’t even begin to tell the whole story. I mean, we’re talking about comparing Chandler to KG.

And why is it ridiculous?

Maybe because Chandler has 5,027 career points and KG has 22,716 (more than 4 times as many as Chandler).

Maybe because Chandler has 5,448 career rebounds and KG has 12,473 (more than double Chandler’s total).

Maybe it’s a ridiculous comparison because Chandler’s best effort in rebounds, this season, is about equal to KG’s worst rpg in a season.

Maybe this is ridiculous because even as a rookie, KG had better numbers in points, rebounds, and blocks than Chandler has had in his career.

Or maybe it’s ridiculous because in Garnett’s MVP season, 2003-2004, he accumulated 20-40% of what Chandler has done in his entire career!  In 2004, KG posted 1,987 points and 1,139 rebounds.  So, KG put up 39% of Chandler’s career points, and 20% of Chandler career rebounds in 1 year.

Tyson Chandler, never an All-star, is a future retired NBA player who has never led the league in anything except offensive rebounding, which he did twice.

Garnett, on the other hand, is a future Hall of Fame power forward.  KG is a 13-time All-star, and former MVP, who has led the league in scoring 1 time and led the league in rebounding 2 times.  When he signed with the C’s, Garnett was a seasoned veteran.  KG was coming off of another season where he had led the league in rebounding.

So, Nowitzki said that the addition of Chandler to the Mavs was analogous to Garnett joining the Celtics.

In a sense, Chandler does add defense, rebounding, and a physical presence, all qualities Garnett provides for the Celtics.  But, even to put the two players in the same sentence is basketball blasphemy.

To put it another way, comparing Chandler to Garnett is like comparing Dirk Nowitzki to Vlade Divac.

The 26-8 Mavs are 2nd in the West behind the San Antonio Spurs.  So far this season, the Celtics are 26-7.

But the real test for Chandler and the Mavericks, as always, will be the playoffs.  Will Chandler be the difference maker that helps the Mavs raise the Larry O’Brien Trophy?  Not likely.

I would have counted the Mavs out before, but certainly the season-ending injury to Caron Butler, one of their leading scorers, only makes a title even more improbable for Dallas.

R.S. De France is a College and University instructor of English Composition living in Los Angeles. He has a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Rhetoric, Composition, and Writing. De France has played, coached, and officiated competitive high school basketball in California for many years. Recently, De France, his wife, and another colleague started an internationally read magazine at Shwibly.com.

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