A couple days late, maybe, but a couple Bulls notes in the DPoY voting.
It's true that once upon a time, before the 3rd quarter of game two in this series, the Bulls were the best defensive team in the league. And they did receive some recognition for it. Luol Deng finished 9th with 16 voting points including one first-place vote (any guesses?), and Joakim Noah 11th with a couple of 2nd place nods. You'd think each will make an all-defensive team.
And former Bull Tyson Chandler took home the award, a year after he led the Mavericks' defense to the NBA title. Not bad for someone pretty much ran out of town by Skiles and the luxury tax. Kelly Dwyer went through the ups and downs of Chandler's career, and this indeed brought back memories:
Charged, along with, in turning the Bulls around eventually in the midst of an ongoing rebuilding project, Chandler struggled mightily to find an NBA role. The breathless scouting reports that painted him as a Kevin Garnett-like project were quickly hid under desks when it became apparent that his hands weren't up to KG's snuff (whose are?) and he was more of an orthodox big man. The problem with that orthodox role (who doesn't want a 7-footer adept at doing nothing but blocking shots and rebounding?) is that he didn't have the body suited for the banging, in just his third year out of high school.
Even after averaging a double-double (even considering an injury-addled two-point, 14-minute game) of 13 points and 10.3 rebounds in Chicago's first month of 2003-04, Chandler missed most of that season struggling through a back ailment brought on by interior pounding his skinny frame couldn't handle. A few crashes to the floor after charging after loose balls didn't hurt, either.
This is his third season, mind you, leaving Tyson too old-school to work as a KG-type, but without enough old-school muscle to attempt the sort of game that his skills sort of demanded. Or screamed for. With Curry looking just as bad, in a completely different way, Chandler didn't have many fans in Chicago despite his obvious hustle and strong attitude.
2004-05 changed things - which is a theme you'll no doubt notice as you work through this. Chandler worked to spell Curry off the Chicago bench and was his team's most destructive defensive force; starting 10 games but playing 80 on a Bulls team that was second overall in defensive efficiency. And yet, Chandler didn't even put up the sort of per-minute stats that usually crank a Player Efficiency Rating through the roof. His show was more in hedging, playing team defense that didn't always see him bashing a shot attempt into the fifth row or hauling in 20 rebounds. Chicago was smitten enough to hand him a contract averaging in the eight figures the following late summer.
Because he was a restricted free agent, Tyson didn't play much in the offseason as the Bulls let him seek out his own market, and as a result he wasn't in shape by the time training camp started. Contract in hand, Chandler pressed.
Another change - starting alongside the similarafter Curry's trade to New York, meant that Chandler had to watch his fouls, all without playing with the sort of offensive-minded partner (the year before it was ; something you shouldn't laugh at because that combo worked damn well for a 47-win Bulls team the year before) as then-coach refused to play Chandler alongside the then-effective , and then the Bulls barely eked into the playoffs as a result. Tyson backed his way into a series of offensive fouls screening for his team's guards against defenses that weren't even bothering to cover Chandler and Davis, and he turned the ball over on over a quarter of the possessions he used up.
Uninspired by the change, the team dealt Chandler to New Orleans for the trade bait that was never traded, in.
Tyson was my favorite Bull at the time. I wonder if Noah can ever become quite that much of a defensive force, given his strength limitations (and height compared to Chandler). And though Noah's obviously the better offensive player at this stage of his career, Chandler shot 68%.