Tyson Chandler Trade: Moving On Edition

Published: February 18, 2009

I think I’ve wallowed enough now.  I’m not going to rip Shinn or Bower in this post.  I’m not happy with what happened, but I don’t have anything to say about it that hasn’t been said in a dozen other places.  It’s time to move on and get to what we received and how it impacts the team.  In other words, it’s time to take refuge in numbers.

The first thing you have to remember is that Chandler, when he wasn’t missing games, was actually playing fairly poorly.  Chandler has only been in double figures in rebounding 13 times all season, he’s missed 18 games, and his offense has been down and he’s only been in double digit scoring 16 times this season.  His rebounds per 40 minutes have been the worst he’s ever averaged – even worse than his rookie year.  There have been a lot of reasons given for this – his baby being born, his family being in California, his earlier knee injury – but the fact remains, he’s been having a terrible, terrible year.

So let’s just start with the general numbers around Chandler, Wilcox, Joe Smith, Sean Marks, Hilton Armstrong and Melvin Ely.  I’ll also throw in David West so you can get an idea of how he looks in comparison as well.  I used rates for rebounding and turnovers, because a player on a team with 50 misses per game is going to collect more rebounds per game than one on a team with 40 misses per game.  Off Reb Rate means what percentage of availble offensive rebounds does the player get.  Turnover Rate is the % of the time a player has the ball that they turn it over.

Player Points
eFG% Off Reb Rate Def Reb Rate Steals
Turnover Rate PER
David West 21.1 47.1% 5.8% 18.9% 0.7 1.0 8.9% 18.78
Tyson Chandler 11.3 56.3% 13.4% 18.4% 1.0 1.8 14.5% 14.17
Chris Wilcox 17.3 48.5% 10.9% 22.0% 0.4 0.7 14.2% 13.56
Joe Smith 13.8 45.9% 8.2% 18.1% 0.5 1.5 5.0% 13.43
Sean Marks
9.7 43.6% 9.2% 19.0% 0.4 1.6 11.9% 9.33
Hilton Armstrong 11.9 50.0% 9.2% 12.7% 1.0 1.7 21.4% 9.03
Melvin Ely 10.8 35.3% 8.5% 11.6% 0.3 1.4 16.9% 5.86
Rebounding Evaluation

This, of course, has been one of the Hornet’s weaknesses all season, and one you would think would be exacerbated by the loss of Chandler.  That, however, is not really the case.   So far this season Wilcox has been just as good of a rebounder overall as Tyson Chandler.  Yes, he’s not as good as crashing the offensive boards, but he’s currently much better than Chandler this season as a defensive rebounder.

That, however, is not the biggest boost the Hornets get from this trade.  They will no longer have to rely on Hilton Armstrong or Melvin Ely for anything with Joe Smith in the fold.  Those two guys are some of the weakest rebounders in the league at their positions – and their other talents don’t even come close to compensating for their weakness on the boards.  Joe Smith and Sean Marks will be able to form a pair of pretty solid rebounders off the bench – something we’ve needed desperately.

Scoring Evaluation

Wilcox also scores more – though less efficiently – than Tyson Chandler.  I must point out, however, that Chandler’s most efficient basket – accounting for about 66% of his offense, is catching and finishing the pick and roll with Paul.  If Wilcox’s shooting percentage doesn’t climb when he’s paired with Paul, I’ll be pretty stunned.(especially considering this is his worst shooting % of his career)

Overall, Chandler and Wilcox’s PERs – from both last year and this year – are only slightly different, with Chandler edging him by less than a point in each situation.  If Wilcox, given a bigger role since he’s not giving up minutes to a young player like Jeff Green the Thunder are trying to develop, returns to form, the loss of Chandler will be greatly mitigated.

And again, Joe Smith and Sean Marks(who has been producing a PER of 13.6 since being used exclusively at center) are much better third and fourth big than Armstrong and Posey/Ely, which we’ve been relying on since Chandler went down.

Oh – and just the thought of going from Hilton Armstrong’s League Leading-almost worst ever 21% turnover rate to Joe Smiths 5% makes me a happy man.


Here’s the problem, of course.  Tyson’s height and athleticism makes him a good defender on other big players – and  quick enough to contest driving guards.  He will be missed, no question.

Straight up defense, of course, is hard to quantify.  There are some numbers you can get that attempt to quantify a player’s defense, and here are some of I feel have the least major issues.  These quantify the PER of a player when playing a certain position – and defending a certain position.  Of course, they are a bit wonky, because switches happen all the time, and Antonio Daniels is trying to stop a fast player from getting into the paint is quite different than Chris Paul – which means Hilton has to help more – which leaves his player open for putbacks etc.  Anyways, here they are.  I’m giving how each player performs as a Center or Power Forward – and how their opponent did, using PER as a measure.

Player PER as a Center Opposing Center PER PER as a Power Forward Opposing Power Forward PER
David West 24.8 19.6 19.6 16.5
Tyson Chandler 15.8 15.2 n/a n/a
Chris Wilcox 14.6 21.5 16.4 12.3
Joe Smith 16.7 19.7 13.9 15.6
Sean Marks 10.3 15.0 11.3 22.0
Hilton Armstrong 10.7 20.2 8.8 18.9
Melvin Ely 8.0 17.4 n/a n/a

Obviously, Tyson is better than either of the guys we just obtained at stopping centers, neither of whom do well at that position.  The good news, is once again we can send Hilton and Melvin Ely to the end of the bench and stop relying on them.

Final Evaluation

Byron Scott will now have the choice of running Sean Marks or Wilcox out next to David West.  Both have their benefits – Marks let West stay at his natural Power Forward position, and like I said earlier, Marks has been posting a 13.6 PER since Tyson went down and he exclusively played the center spot.  Marks is also our most capable defender of opposing centers.(15.0 PER for opposing centers)

Still – our best option, strangely enough, may be to roll out a starting frontcourt of West and Wilcox.  No, West isn’t very good at stopping centers, but when you put him close to the basket, he’s a much more focused rebounder and efficient scorer.  Wilcox, of course, is a much better defender when trying to stop Power Forwards than when trying to stop centers.  It may just be best to let West and Wilcox – since they can’t stop their opponents – to try and outscore them, which they are capable of doing.

For now, however, I think Byron will stick with Marks at center, since he knows the team.  Predicted depth chart for now:

C: Marks\Smith\Armstrong
PF: West\Wilcox\Smith
SF: Peja\Posey\Wright
SG: Butler\Brown\Wright
PG: Paul\Daniels\Brown

In the end, that’s not a terrible line up.  Is a championship line-up?  I actually feel its closer than what we had with Tyson playing at his current level.

I won’t talk about next year, however.  Maybe something will happen over the summer we can’t predict.


Enjoy the game tonight – hopefully we’ll surprise the Magic.

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