Sometimes damaged goods can turn out to be very valuable.
When the Mavs acquired Tyson Chandler from the Bobcats this past offseason, many of the experts said it was a risky gamble. The talk was that Chandler was too injury prone, which caused him to never live up to his potential.
The thing is, the Mavs weren't just looking at Chandler as just a player, they were looking at him as a presence. And that's exactly what he's been.
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There are several factors in the Mavs run to the NBA Finals, and one big factor is the big man in the middle. Chandler is really the first center the Mavs have had in years, a lot of years. This brought a whole new dynamic to the team.
On the offensive side, Chandler can get points off rebounds, and keep possessions going that would have otherwise fizzled in recent years. On the defensive side, he can guards and rebound, block shots and alters those that he doesn't block.
Another intangible Chandler brings is toughness, which many felt the Mavs lacked over the years. He set the tone early in the season that you weren't going to show up and push this team around anymore. Sometimes that toughness can lead to fouls, but that comes with the territory.
In Game 4 of the Mavs series-clinching win over the Lakers, it took a couple of people on the bench to keep Chandler from going after Andrew Bynum after Bynum's intentional foul that left JJ Barea on the floor. To Chandler, you mess with one then you are messing with all.
The Finals could be Chandler's chance to shine. If the Heat have a weakness, it's the center position. You may even get a chance to see former Mav Erick Dampier get some playing time. The Heat really don't have anyone to match Chandler's toughness and physical play, so it should be interesting to see how this plays out.
If the Mavs go on to win the title, you can say Chandler was the missing piece. For years, fans screamed that the team needed a center in order to have a chance. Now they are just four wins away from being on top of the basketball world.
Seems like that gamble in the offseason is paying off after all.