DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks look down on Lob City and every other NBA team, at least in terms of dunk totals.
But as long as Tyson Chandler stays healthy, the Mavs will have an above-the-rim element in their offense.
On Saturday, the Mavs will face the only player in the league who has thrown down more dunks than Chandler this season. Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan, half of the famed Lob City finishers, has 106 dunks. Chandler has 95, a baker’s dozen more than any other NBA rim rattler outside of Jordan, and more than half of the Mavs’ total (184).
“I take pride in finishing,” said Chandler, a Southern California native who will have plenty of friends and family in the stands at Staples Center. “I feel like no pass is a bad pass. I always tell my teammates that. Any time they throw the ball and I don’t make a play, I feel like it’s my fault. All year they've been doing an excellent job of feeding me and it’s become a weapon.”
Chandler is putting up 10.8 points per game (third-best in his career), with almost half of his points coming on dunks.
More than half of Chandler’s dunks have been alley-oop finishes (48 dunks on 53 attempts), according to NBA.com data. Some of those have occurred after a driver drew the opposing big man. The majority have come off pick-and-rolls.
“It’s a huge part of our offense,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “If they take the dunks away, that’s what opens up everybody else. We bank a lot on him rolling hard and sucking in defenders. If not, Rondo and Monta [Ellis] can throw it up.”
Coach Rick Carlisle doesn’t really care about how much highlight-reel material the Mavs provide. He’d rather discuss efficiency and ball movement.
There’s no more efficient shot for the Mavs than a Chandler slam. And they tend to be the product of beautiful ball movement.
“The important thing is that the ball moves and somebody gets great shots,” Carlisle said. “If you can get lob dunks, it doesn’t get much better than that. You get points, you get momentum, it generally juices up the team that’s dunking the ball.
“But it’s unrealistic to think that you can get more than a few of them per game, and even then, teams are taking measures to limit the number of times we can get the lob, so we've got to move the ball and get great shots everywhere. Any team in this league is going to love alley-oop dunks whenever they can get them.”
The Mavs get them more than any team, at least so far this season.