With news recently breaking that Tyson Chandler will be bought out by the Pheonix Suns the Lakers have emerged as front-runners to sign him. While most people question the value of this move, it could turn around the Lakers season. This offseason the Lakers opted not to sign a real center besides JaVale McGee. In retrospect, that was a very bad decision. The small ball lineups with LeBron James or Kyle Kuzma at center have been getting destroyed defensively. In fact, when McGee is not on the court the Lakers have a defensive rating of 127.5. That is significantly worse than the Cavaliers team-worst 119.3 defensive rating.
Tyson Chandler: The Lakers’ Missing Piece
It’s obvious the Lakers are flat out bad on defense and that is primarily because of their paint defense. Currently, the Lakers allow the third most points in the paints out of all NBA teams. Obviously, this is because they have nobody to guard the basket. The only other player besides McGee above 7 feet is Ivica Zubac and Luke Walton has banished him to the end of the bench. Tyson Chandler, although no longer an elite shot-blocker, is still a badly needed big man. Last season, he managed to have a positive impact on the Suns defensive rating despite the garbage-fire of defensive wings surrounding him. Don’t expect Chandler to win DPOY, but he should be able to give the Lakers a good 10-15 minutes at center while McGee is on the bench.
Offensively, Tyson Chandler doesn’t offer much but should still fit in well with the Lakers. Chandler’s two strengths, screen setting and finishing, are exactly what the Lakers need. They already have plenty of ball-handlers and big men with guard skills. Chandler offers them a big man with big man skills. Last season, he shot a very respectable 67% at the rim, feasting off pick and rolls and dump off passes. These small things will be very valuable to the Lakers and should help them win some of their close games. Out of 5 losses, 3 have been decided by fewer than 5 points, hopefully, Chandler is enough to turn those losses into wins. The terrible defensive stretches that happen with McGee on the bench should be less common and the offense shouldn’t suffer either. Overall, this buyout signing might be just the thing that saves the Lakers season.