Okafor v Chandler: Another look

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Published: February 26, 2010

One of the Hornet’s biggest moves of the off-season was swapping Tyson Chandler for Emeka Okafor. Looking at their respective playing times, the winner of the deal is a no-brainer: Okafor has started every game for us, while Chandler has spent significant parts of the season injured.

But because half the fun of being a sports fan is second guessing everything, let’s enter the Spec-u-la-tron 3000, and imagine our choice is between Okafor and a completely healthy fully fit Tyson Chandler. Would we still be happy with the choice we made?

Chandler’s role in the Hornets was well known when we traded him. He was an above average defender, had the pick-and-roll down to a science with Chris Paul, but was limited offensively to dunks and alley-oops. Okafor didn’t have the same presence as an interior defender, but anything we lost in defence, we hoped to gain in offence.

And Okafor probably does have a wider offensive arsenal than Chandler, but as the season has progressed, Okafor hasn’t really become the cornerstone of our offence that we might have expected. It seems for every night he scores 17-20 points, there are two nights when he scores 4-8. His defensive combination with David West is prone to break down, and he didn’t the same chemistry with Paul on the pick and roll as Chandler did.

At the start of the season, we also expected we would need the scoring from Okafor. However the development of Thornton and Collison as legitimate scoring threats means that we haven’t needed as much scoring from our centre position, and the Hornets simply don’t appear to be using him as a primary scorer at the moment.

Makes me wonder whether a fully-fit Chandler would be a better fit for the 2009/10 Hornets than Okafor, if we need defense more than scoring from the position.

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