I’ll be honest with you. I’m waiting on Tyson Chandler to not live up to this new contract. It seems inevitable: big man who has career year at 29 years old, finds himself in a perfect situation, plays great D and rebounds but has it magnified because his team finally got through the West and won a title (seriously, if Dallas loses in the Western playoffs, is anyone talking about how great Chandler is right now?). Take it for face value: a 29-year-old, injury prone big man who’s coming off BY FAR the best year of his career, a guy who’s been incredibly up and down throughout his career was just given $56 million to come save the defense in the world’s most crazed media market.
Tell me you aren’t worried right now. The one saving grace for the signing is this – New York won’t ask him to do anything crazy. They want his size. They want his shot blocking and rebounding. They want his athleticism. And I think most of all – and it’s been very overlooked so far – they want his attitude. Chandler gets major props from me because he’ll bring that locker room together. I doubt we’ll get one major negative chemistry story from them all year. The Knicks would probably trade their backcourt for UConn’s guards right now, but when you have a big man group of Chandler, Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, you can get by.
So, as I posed the question last week, does that make New York the NBA’s No. 1 frontcourt? There are some other teams that may not have quite the talent, but definitely can hold down the paint. I tried to keep this including all three positions evenly; To make the list, you needed production from everywhere rather than being top heavy. The Lakers and Heat, for instance, both have two great players in the frontcourt. But their third-best starters (Joel Anthony and whoever the Lakers pick to start) are average at best. Here are the NBA’s best frontcourts:
FRONTCOURT OF THE FUTURE: Utah Jazz
They’ve been flying under the radar for a minute. Actually, they’ve been flying under the radar forever. But the Jazz have done their homework, and while I don’t think they’re a playoff team, they have a nice, young nucleus. Their frontline is especially intriguing. Gordon Hayward might still look like a little boy when he’s 30, but I’m betting he’ll still be starting even then. His numbers (5.4 points and 1.9 rebounds a night) as a rookie were pretty weak, but that’s only because they kept him chained up in the doghouse for almost half the year. Add in Al Jefferson, one of the best low-post scorers in the NBA, and Paul Millsap, who’s shown that if you get him on the floor, he’ll produce, whether it’s off the bench or from the opening tip. There’s also lottery pick Enes Kanter, and Mehmet Okur, who’s coming off an injury. There’s no way he can still move as well as he used to now that he’s 32. But you can’t lose that stroke.
And lastly, since seeing him in high school as literally the next Dwight Howard (check out his pre-draft measurements. Scary similarities), Derrick Favors hasn’t blown up. To me, he’s too nice of a kid to ever really blow up the way he probably could. But when you’re a bigger and better athlete than 95 percent of the NBA, that doesn’t really matter. You can get away with it and still be a problem.