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Why Tyson Chandler is important

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ChicagoSports.com has a semi-regular feature where they publish fan submitted essays on the Bulls, and this recently posted one by Tonny Lee assessing Tyson Chandler is dead on .

I know at this site there is more patience for Tyson than in most places, but in the Chicago MSM Chandler is unfairly vilified as the root of the Bulls problems. It's an easy argument to make, he did not have a good year after signing a huge contract. Even when he is playing well, it is through altering shots and rebounding, which fail to overshadow the awkward post moves and dropped passes that better stick in one's memory.

But as obvious as the Bulls' need for a defensive guard to keep Hinrich from always guarding the best opposing guard, it is just as important to find a post player to keep Chandler from having to guard the opponent's best big man. I'll just got to the letter:

He is ranked No. 1 in the NBA in rebounds-per-minute, which means that we must keep him out of foul trouble and in the game for him to be effective. The trade of Eddy Curry hurt Chandler more than anyone cares to admit. The Bulls should acquire Joel Przybilla in the off-season to defend the opposing teams' best post players, thus allowing Chandler to rebound and block from the weak side and play meaningful minutes. He certainly needs to gain significant strength in off-season workouts.

I truly feel he gets too much blame for the team's flaws and unfortunately has developed a foul-prone reputation with the referees.

We debated the name Przybilla yesterday, but whether he's the right guy or not the important thing is that they find somebody similar. I also loved the next part of the letter:

We are often too enamored with the "potential" of college players who have only showed one good season in school, or even just one good tournament. Chandler would easily be a top-5 pick in this year's draft since there is no true top-tiered center.

How very true. I caught an episode of Chicago Tribune Live around the aftermath of the NCAA final, and the discussion was all about Joakim Noah and the help he could give the Bulls. The host jokingly compared Noah's supposed dominance to the bumbling, awkward Tyson Chandler, claiming Noah was a better player already, especially on offense. Former Bulls beat reporter KC Johnson (who once made fun of my blog but I won't hold it against him) was on the panel that night and stood up for Tyson, correctly pointing out how ludicrous it was to compare Chandler, a 23 year-old and a  4-year veteran, to a college sophomore.

While Noah is out of the draft, Tyrus Thomas has a Chandler-like game that has many people gushing. But if Chandler was playing for LSU last year, he'd be destroying people. That may be damning with faint praise considering the paltry talent the NCAA has nowadays, but I think it's important to put these college players in perspective in the midst of all this pre-draft drooling. Sometimes Chandler is considered disposable but he may be the Bulls' most important player.

Consider this March article from 82Games.com , which looked for any correlations between championship teams and how their rosters fared in the regular season awards. Nearly all championship teams had superstars, either an All-NBA first team player or defender. The following point was driven home:

STEP 1: Acquire a Championship Superstar

Approach #1: Acquire a Top 5 caliber player
Only two NBA Champions failed to include a player named to the All-NBA first team during their careers. These players are easy to identify as all but 4 NBA championship teams included players named All-NBA 1st Team in the prior four seasons.

Approach #2: If you fail to acquire a Top 5 caliber player, then you need a Top 5 caliber defender.
Only two NBA Champions failed to include a player named to the All-Defensive first team during their careers, and each of these teams included Top 5 Players.

Approach #3: Clear salary cap space for next year.
No NBA team has won a championship without a Top 5 player or Top 5 defender.

Look at the Bulls roster and you won't find a future top 5 player. But there is a possible top 5 caliber defender and it's Tyson Chandler.

This is hardly an exact science, the seasonal awards are subjective and those on good teams are given preference (resulting in a chicken-or-egg type argument). But the point to be made is that superstars are hard to find, either on offense or defense. While Tyson definitely needs to have a comeback season to justify his draft status, his contract, and now all my hyping, I think he can do it and eventually get to that championship level. And even if he only comes close, if he's gotten rid of too soon the Bulls will be stuck looking for someone like him.