Tyson Chandler (07-08 Synopsis)

12 09 2008

I love you.

I love you.


Tyson Chandler — New Orleans Hornets Center
Measurements: 7’1″ – 235 lbs.
Experience: Seventh-year, 25 years old
From: Compton, California

2007-2008 Season Statistics
11.8 points | 62.3% FG | 59.3% FT | 11.7 rebounds | 1.1 blocks | 1.0 assists | 35.2 minutes

Season Highs
Points: 22 (@ Golden State)
Total Rebounds: 22 (2x)
Defensive Rebounds: 16 (vs. Seattle)
Offensive Rebounds: 12 (@ Portland)
Blocks: 4 (2x)
Assists: 5 (@ Memphis)

Season Grade: B+

What This Year Proved

I love Tyson Chandler.  I do. 

As a Chicago Bulls, he was easily my favorite NBA player.  I heaped praise on him then but now that’s he’s rollin’, it’s legitimate praise.  I don’t get the weird looks at bars anymore when I yell in delight as Tyson’s facial hair flashes across a TV screen.

Tyson had a great season with a very good playoff run.  He’s still somewhat volatile, getting too caught up in himself during stretches but there’s nothing wrong with that.  I always want emotionally-driven players to let emotion fuel them.  No need to keep it bottled up.

Tyson was Chris Paul’s primary pick-and-roll partner this season.  And watching Paul lob the ball to Tyson for a dunk was reminiscent to watching Andre Miller lob it to Marcus Camby. 

Coincidentally, Camby is the one player I would compare Tyson to at this point.  They’re both long, lanky defensive centers.  Both are limited on the offensive end.  They’re even statistically comparable.

Take a look at Camby’s fifth season.  Camby was 26 at this point and development-wise, it’s the closest to Tyson’s seventh at 25.

Marcus Camby (00-01 – NYK – 5th year – 26)
12.0 points | 11.5 rebounds | 2.2 blocks | 1.0 steals | 1.0 turnovers | 3.3 fouls
Tyson Chandler (07-08 – NOH – 7th year – 25)
11.8 points | 11.7 rebounds | 1.1 blocks | 0.6 steals | 1.7 turnovers | 3.1 fouls

Marcus Camby (00-01 – NYK – 5th year – 26)
4.8 FG | 9.2 FGA | 52.4% FG | 3.6 FTA | 66.7% FT | 33.8 minutes
Tyson Chandler (07-08 – NOH – 7th year – 25)
4.8 FG | 7.7 FGA | 62.3% FG | 3.7 FTA | 59.3% FT | 35.2 minutes

Very similar, indeed.  It should be noted that although Tyson is known as a shot-blocker, he only returns 1.1 shots a game.  Low shot-blocking numbers doesn’t discredit his defense as I one of my first-ever posts explains.  Tyson didn’t block the shots but he certainly changed a lot of them, anchoring the Hornets defense from the 5 spot.  This freed up David West to do his thing offensively.

Although his productivity was somewhat erratic — he slumped early and mid-season — Tyson picked it up around the All-Star break and for the tail end of the regular season.  He finished third in the league in total rebounds (928) behind Dwight Howard (1,161) and Camby (1,037).  He finished seventh in defensive rebounds (606) but took the cake in offensive boards at 322.

Despite all of the positives, he still doesn’t have any semblance of a low post game.  This strikes me as extremely troubling considering he’s been in the league for the better part of a decade. 

Quote Him

“Every time Tyson Chandler gets a paycheck, he should take Chris Paul out to dinner.” — Charles Barkley

Looking Forward

As long as Tyson Chandler plays with a legitimate low post threat — West, in this case — his deficiencies will be overlooked.  But when he’s looked at to create easy buckets for himself, it can be disastrous (see: Tyson Chandler’s career with the Bulls).

So long as he’s playing with CP3, he can get easy buckets with the pick-and-roll but Ty, it’s not a bad idea to start developing a go-to move down low.  A counter move would be useful too, while you’re at it.

Since Tyson left Chicago, he’s had a chance to limit his fouls.  In his last season with the Bulls, he was fouling 5.1 times per 36 minutes.  In his two seasons with the Hornets, he’s dropped that to 3.5 and 3.1 fouls per 36 minutes.  This drop is partly because his anticipation and defensive rotations are getting better.  But it’s also because his team can afford to hide him every now and then — be that by subbing him out, playing zone or switching defenders.  In Chicago, he played defense with Eddy Curry, an aging Antonio Davis and Othella Harrington.  Yikes.

Tyson is slowly improving his turnovers-assists ratio.  He’ll never be a distribution god but he can continue to limit his turnovers, work on his offensive awareness and realize that he’s a 7-footer.   Keeping the ball up if you’re being hounded can buy you an extra second before tossing it away.

His most glaring weakness is his free throw shooting: 59.3% last season while shooting 60.0% for his career.  He needs to work on that.  Even Camby has pulled his free throw shooting up from the low 60’s to the low 70’s.  Get yourself some easy points, Ty.

Drew Gooden (07-08 Synopsis)

29 07 2008

A portrait of a young beard

A portrait of an artist with a young beard


Drew Gooden — Chicago Bulls Forward
Measurements: 6’10” – 230 lbs.
Experience: Sixth-year, 27 years old
From: University of Kansas

2007 – 2008 Season Statistics
12.0 points | 44.9% FG | 8.6 rebounds | 1.2 assists | 0.8 blocks | 30.8 minutes

Season Highs
Points: 31 (vs. Atlanta)
Rebounds: 16 (2x)
Defensive Rebounds: 13 (@ Phoenix)
Offensive Rebounds: 8 (2x)
Assists: 5 (2x)
Blocks: 4 (vs. New Jersey)
Steals: 5 (@ Toronto)

What This Year Proved

Drew is your consummate hustle player.  He can crash the boards and set picks with the best of them.  But on a team where every front-court player is a “hustle player,” Drew had to bring his game.

And he did, for the most part.  In the 51 games before getting traded to the Chicago Bulls, Drew tallied averages of 11.3 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.6 blocks. 

In 18 games with the Bulls, Drew averaged 14.0 points, 9.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.3 blocks.  He did a solid job for Chicago.  In Chicago, he improved his per game shot-blocking drastically, nearly doubling his 0.7 career block average.

His sudden defensive prowess can be attributed to his new role as one of Chicago’s primary big men.  The pressure defense employed last year helped funnel drives to either him or Joakim Noah.  Drew proved that he can be an adequate, if not exemplary, anchor for a thinning Bulls defense.

Quote Him

“Man, I got jealous of the ducktail.  The ducktail started getting more attention than me, so that’s why I cut it off.” — on cutting his old rat-tail

Looking Forward

We know Drew can run the floor and finish.  We know he can hustle and board.  But as the Bulls are currently constructed, he’ll need to do more than that.

When he establishes position, he has a high-percentage baby hook that he hits over most defenses.  Drew gets into trouble when he starts acting like Arvydas Sabonis.  The Big 90 convinces himself that he can hit fadeaway J’s a la Sabonis but they’re bad, off-balance shots and he’s no Paul Hamm.

Drew needs to use his muscle and width to get as many easy inside buckets as he can.  Alternatively, he has some speed and enough determination to beat his man down the floor.  Easy buckets can come his way by looking for an outlet or a quick entry pass in the early offense. 

Because the Bulls haven’t addressed their big man deficiency, Drew Gooden will need to assert himself past his comfort zone.  He doesn’t have second or third option skills but being the most polished big forces him into the equation.

Season Grade: B

Fourteen and 10 is nothing to sneeze at.  Drew performed as well as he’s ever performed in his career.  Although his efforts didn’t translate into more wins, it’s greatly appreciated.  Keep on keepin’ on, especially with that gnarly beard.

Photo credit: Slam Dunk Central

Thabo Sefolosha (07-08 Synopsis)

20 05 2008

Thabo Sefolosha – Chicago Bulls Guard
Measurements: 6’5″ – 215 lbs.
Experience: Second-year, 23 years old
From: Switzerland

2007- 2008 Season Statistics
6.7 points | 42.8% FG| 33.0% 3-pt FG | 3.7 rebounds | 1.9 assists | 20.5 minutes

Season Highs
Points: 22 (2x)
Rebounds: 13 (vs. Detroit)
Assists: 7 (@ Milwaukee)
Steals: 4 (vs. Miami)
Blocks: 4 (@ Minnesota)
Minutes: 44 (vs. Indiana)

What This Year Proved

Thabo Sefolosha can be relied on as a starter. 

In 47 games off the bench, Thabo averaged 4.3 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 0.6 steals.  In 22 games as a starter, Thabo increased his averages to 11.9 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 2.1 steals.  The increase in productivity can be attributed directly to increased floor time.  But the fact is that this is a young man with a lot of promise.  He’s got the physical tools and they should look to develop him further.

When the Bulls drafted Thabo, they looked at him as a combo-guard.  He could initiate the offense and play on the wings when necessary.  This season proved that he’s not the steadiest hand as he brings the ball up.  Thabo doesn’t turn the ball over at an alarming rate but he doesn’t appear confident as he crosses the timeline. 

Thabo’s a great finisher.  He can finish strong and very, very high.  He’s also surprisingly adept at using the basket to his advantage as he executed a variety of reverse lay-ups in traffic.

Quote Him

“I don’t believe I really chose to play basketball.  I simply ended up playing the game after it chose me.” — Thabo, on how he fell in love with the game.

Can you smell the cheese too?

Looking Forward

Thabo has range but the coaching staff should work on tweaking his shooting stroke.  The practice of changing players’ shooting form used to be frowned upon.  It was the equivalent of an Amish teenager getting a nose-job.  But a lot of teams have been experimenting with it, notably the San Antonio Spurs.  It should be considered because Thabo has a very odd stroke.  It seems like he puts too much wrist into it and he doesn’t seem to release the ball at the top of his jump.  This can certainly help his 33.0% clip from long-range and 42.8% clip overall.

Since Larry Hughes arrived in Chicago, I’ve described Thabo as redundant.  What he will want to do is get a good training camp in and impress the new Bulls coach.  He needs to print the following out and show it to Reinsdorf and the new coach:

Larry Hughes
As a starter:  11.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists
Off the bench: 13.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists

While Thabo is clearly better as a starter, his counterpart is arguably better starting the game in his warm-ups.  He should also cite the fact that Larry is nearing 30 and hasn’t played a lick of position defense for the past 3 years.  Thabo, on the other hand, was praised for his defensive savvy by the demanding Scott Skiles and cites his own defense as the single aspect that got him noticed.  Entice them with your potential, Thabo!

Season Grade: C

Thabo was solid.  When the Bulls eliminated themselves from the playoffs, Thabo was an acknowledged bright spot.  The problem is that he didn’t snatch the opportunity and cement himself as an unquestioned rotation player.


Joakim Noah (07-08 Synopsis)

7 05 2008

There’s a funny thing about polarizing sports figures, you either love them or you hate them. After a year of Joakim Noah, I’m actually starting to like him.

Joakim Noah – Chicago Bulls Center
Measurements: 6’11” – 232 lbs.
Experience: Rookie, 23 years old
From: University of Florida

Season Highs

Points – 18 (vs. Milwaukee)
Rebounds – 20 (vs. Cleveland)
Assists – 4 (4x)
Steals – 4 (2x)
Blocks – 4 (3x)
Minutes Played – 40 (vs. Cleveland)

What This Year Proved

Joakim Noah showed the same tenacity and hustle that he displayed while in college. After Ben Wallace’s departure, Joakim must have led the team in rebounds tipped to himself. The man is tenacious.

Joakim’s a very good interior passer. He’s also quite adept at passing out of the block. Unlike the majority of big men, Joakim on the block isn’t a black hole for basketballs. He’s very much willing to toss it out and allow the ball to reverse or let himself re-set on the block.

The rookie big man also showed that he’s got some defensive skills. Oddly enough, I think his man defense is better than his off-ball defense. You would think it’s the other way around but I think you can catch Joakim watching the ball too often. He tends to drift when he’s playing weak side D. Then he overplays on help penetration, allowing his man easy buckets at the rim.

When Chicago plays zone, he’s marginally better because he’s still in college mode. Joakim still puts a hand on opponents in the zone rather than just shuffling his feet.

He has also proved that he’s willing to learn and capable of improving. His numbers in November were 3.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.2 assists, 0.7 blocks and 0.7 steals. He steadily improved his game throughout the season. His improvement as well as an increase in playing time — mutually inclusive — lead to quite an increase. In April, his numbers were 10.6 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.6 steals.

Quote Him

“Sometimes the media should think before writing their stories. [They wrote that] I got into a ‘physical altercation’ with the strongest guy in the league? Do you think I’m stupid?” — from SLAM, when approached about why he allegedly fought with Ben Wallace

Looking Forward

Joakim tends to overpass, especially while on the block. I’ve noticed that when he has a good shot, instead of taking it up strong over the defense, he’ll try to force it around his man to Tyrus Thomas or Drew Gooden. Jim Boylan and the coaching staff obviously got on his case about this eventually. Towards the end of the season, Joakim was starting to actually look at the basket when the ball was in his hands.

Drastic improvement should be welcomed on the offensive end. The Bulls should teach him a few go to moves that he can employ with his back to the basket. Joakim’s got a little baby hook that he should shoot with more confidence. Drawing a few more plays up for him can really increase his confidence long-term.

Season Grade: B+

Joakim did a good job this year. He filled in as a role player early but really came on strong towards the end. Once inserted into the starting line-up, he almost doubled his productivity. Joakim is a bit outspoken, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The problem is that he has no credibility as a rookie and he tended to speak up at times when no one else would. You can’t blame a guy for caring though…