Tyson Chandler entered the 2001 NBA draft as an 18-year-old, fresh off leading his Compton, California, Dominguez High School squad to a state championship. As a freshman he had been profiled on 60 minutes as by the time he was a senior, had become nothing less than a California state sensation.
Chandler’s hometown Los Angeles Clippers selected him with the second overall pick in the draft but before the local fan base could start celebrating, they traded him to the Chicago Bulls for 1999 NBA Rookie of the Year Elton Brand, who was coming off his second straight season of averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. If Chandler would have felt pressure playing in front of his hometown fans, he now had the weight of the world on his shoulders after being traded for the dominant Brand and to a Bulls team that expected him to be their new savior!
Chandler was an extremely athletic, legitimate seven footer with magnificent upside as a dominant defender and the physical gifts necessary to become a star on the offensive end as well. However, he also seemed to have a few glaring weaknesses. In fact, draft analyst Matthew Maurer, author of the 2007 Basketball Draft Yearbook, wrote in 2001 that Chandler was “rail thin” and said, “against physical players such as Ousmane Cisse Chandler didn’t respond well and doesn’t like to mix it up inside” adding that even Chandler’s “rebounding despite the high numbers isn’t as strong as one would think because he lacks the intensity and lacks the upper body strength to be [a dominant] rebounder at the NBA level”.
All of the signs one looks for in a potential boom or bust prospect could be spotted in Chandler and after five seasons in the league with the Bulls, Chandler did in fact look more like a bust than boom. Through those first five years Chandler averaged just 7.1 points and 7.7 rebounds and shot 51.1 percent from the field, a far cry from the dominant numbers Elton Brand had averaged in his first two seasons in a Bulls uniform.
However, in the five seasons since he last played for the Bulls (not counting the injury plagued 2009-10 season he spent with the Charlotte Bobcats), Chandler has averaged 10.3 points and 10.5 rebounds and shot an astounding 63.1 percent from the field. He has also made the All-NBA Third Team and All-NBA Defensive Second Team twice, won the 2012 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and helped lead the Dallas Mavericks to the NBA title!
The Chicago Bulls may indeed have drafted a bust in the 2001 NBA draft, but his name was Eddy Curry and not Tyson Chandler!