Since Tyson Chandler joined the Los Angeles Lakers, the team has gone 11-3 and boasts a top-three defense. Chandler does a lot of his work without the basketball in his hands and impacts the game in ways beyond scoring, so it makes sense he appreciates Lonzo Ball and the similar but different way he approaches the game.
“Lonzo, I think what he’s been doing throughout the year (is impressive),” Chandler told reporters after the game. “Especially of late on this run, picking up full court, getting steals, getting us extra buckets.
“With him, he’s one of those guys where scoring doesn’t matter because he impacts the game in so many different ways with his passing, with his defense and just the creativity out there.”
Here’s a fun stat. When Chandler is on the court, the Lakers are 12.8 points better than their opponents per 100 possessions and when he’s on the bench, their net rating drops to -3.2.
Chandler is scoring 3.6 points per game. So when Chandler compliment’s Ball’s ability to impact the game without scoring, it’s coming from pretty good company.
You’d obviously prefer to have the point guard be more of a scoring threat than Ball has been to this point of his career, but to his credit, that hasn’t stopped him from being a net-positive.
Interestingly enough, this approach really makes Ball a perfect point guard on a LeBron James team. If he dominated the basketball in any way, shape or form, the pairing wouldn’t make much sense, given some of the other guys on the roster. Kyrie Irving and James made sense because there weren’t other ball-dominant players on that roster, but that isn’t how this team is made up.
Ball still needs to take and make open shots when the game presents them — like he did in the fourth quarter against the Spurs — but where he’s vastly more important is as the team’s perimeter anchor on defense while Chandler plays centerfield around the basket.
The Lakers collectively taking up the defensive burden so as to allow James to take care of things on offense has ignited the team’s recent play and seems to be a sustainable strategy. This equation would be impossible without guys willing to sacrifice scoring for the betterment of the team. Chandler recognizing that and praising Lonzo for it is the kind of leadership that wins championships.