Coach 'Em Up: If Big Wood Has To Replace TY
With the title comes glee. Moments after the title comes concern.
Tyson Chandler is the guy that Mavs fans fear losing. Maybe you'll remember DB.com's very first Coach ‘Em Up, The Chandler Effect, and if you do remember you would know that, outside of Dirk, Chandler is perhaps the Mavs most irreplaceable player. He is the defensive counterpoint to Dirk's offensive mastery.
What happens if they lose that centerpiece?
What do the Dallas Mavericks actually have in backup Brendan Haywood?
We know straight away that no player in the league aside from Dwight Howard can replace the defensive intensity, athleticism, and the threat of monstrous alley-oops rolling to the rim that TY provides. But should Chandler leave via free agency (something we consider less than likely, by the way), what happens if Big Wood -- the planned-on starter 14 months ago, before Chandler was acquired -- is back atop the depth chart?
The Worst Of Big Wood
*First of all, he is mercurial. The Mavs, and his previous employers, know they might get 10 games at 10/10 ... followed by eight games of 6/6 ... followed by an order from his coach to go on home and pout there.
*While Haywood does have good hands, he doesn't present the constant threat that Chandler does when rolling to the rim. The Mavs started the season often running their offense through the center, positioned at the high post. Big Wood isn't enough of an offensive threat there and in to make that strategy effective. And we didn't see it much later in the year.
We take that back: We saw Big Wood working on post moves constantly -- before games. We just didn't see much of it during the actual games.
*There is a lack of intensity that is part-and-parcel with Big Wood's game. He's an intelligent guy ... to the point that he stops to question "why'' when a coach orders him to go run through that wall.
He's not lethargic off the floor. But he can be moody ... and that certainly extends out onto the floor at times. We are spoiled by a host of Mavericks who always seem ready to play while also carrying a rather sunny disposition (Kidd is just one example). Big Wood cannot be counted on in the same way.
The Best Of Big Wood
By reputation, he might not be as "intimidating'' on the defensive end as TY. But he is actually comparable to TY as a shot-blocker.
*He is athletic enough to move away from the rim and play man-to-man defense out on the floor, is young enough (at 31) to still have upside and is flexible enough as a pupil to truly show interest in getting help from Mavs coaches in areas like free-throw shooting.
*Big Wood is also much stronger than the slight-of-build Chandler, which makes him more effective against the few bruising centers that remain in the league (the Bynums and Perkins of the world). The combination of muscle and attitude sometimes combines to give Dallas its long-desired "tough guy.''
Note Big Wood's post-Griffin-hammering comment: "Every play can't be a dunk-contest dunk.'' See? Like we say, this is an intelligent man.
The biggest problem we see in free agency (or the new CBA) causing Dallas to have to replace Chandler with Haywood is that the Mavericks greatest strength offensively and defensively is multiplicity.
Multiplicity: The Mavs are able to force opposing players into uncomfortable positions on the offensive end while playing a normal game defensively. Opposing small guards are matched up with the burly Kidd while the bigger guards are forced to chase around the tandem of Terry and Barea. The small forward has to deal with the interior strength of guys like Butler and Marion while the 4 has to chase Dirk around the perimeter. Then we have Chandler who plays near the rim, but unlike a traditional center plays almost entirely on movement on the offensive end.
All of that begins with the freakish nature of The UberMan, but as you see, the trickle-down effect allows the entire roster to serve as "matchup nightmares'' of one sort or another.
Defensively the Mavericks are capable of either matching up size on size or cross-matching speed against size. In other words, with the arguable exception of Barea on defense, the trickle-down that begins with TY continues throughout the roster on that end of the floor as well.
Losing Chandler takes away from the team's ability to do that. ... on both ends.
The Mavericks are not the perfect team (though they did look pretty close to that the last time we had the opportunity to watch!) ... But they are one of the most flexible teams of this era. And the flexible Tyson Chandler is a major reason for that.
Brendan Haywood is a perfectly reasonable starting center that several teams would be happy to have. We can play the parlor game of wondering how many NBA teams he would start for, but instead let's do it this way: Among contending teams that are on Dallas' level, which of them wouldn't find Big Wood very, very useful? Put Haywood on the roster in Miami and San Antonio and consider how much more powerful their lineups would seem.
Having said that, Brendan Haywood cannot fully replace Dirk's perfect counterpoint. He is the next best option ... but an option the Mavs strongly prefer to not utilize.
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