Anybody remember those "Assignment: Jordan" basketball cards from the '90s? They featured a handful of players around the league whose teams burdened them with the monstrous task of guarding Michael Jordan. I think I had most of the set- Joe Dumars, Reggie Miller, Nick Anderson- but my favorite, of course, was John Starks. Anyway, I'd imagine that if Jordan were around today, the Knicks' Wilson Chandler would be the one with the world's toughest assignment. As Frank Isola of the Daily News writes, Silent Wil has become the Knicks' go-to stopper for opposing stars big and small. Tonight, it'll be Kevin Durant.
He can guard all five positions and already this season Mike D'Antoni has asked him to defend everyone from Kevin Garnett to Aaron Brooks.
"One game I started off on David West," Chandler said, "and then guarded Chris Paul in the second half."
Chandler's next assignment will be particularly challenging. D'Antoni's plan to slow down the Thunder's Kevin Durant tonight is to defend him with Chandler, who is athletic enough to chase guards on the perimeter and strong enough to be an effective low post defender.
"He looks great," Chandler said. "I put him in the category with Dwyane Wade and LeBron (James). You have to treat him like that."
Chandler has become a favorite of D'Antoni because of that ability to defend multiple positions. Plus, Chandler's ever improving offensive game has been overshadowed by Lee and Danilo Gallinari. Chandler's 15 point-per-game average is third-best on the team and he's shooting 46%.
"A lot of people don't talk about him," D'Antoni said. "But Wil has been great."
Wilson's the one famous for looking completely blank after a posterization, but if he ever shows any fire, it's on defense. If Chandler and the coaching staff are on the same page about his status as star-buster, Wil is going places. Every legitimate team needs a shutdown guy on defense, and a focused Chandler seems as good a candidate as anyone for Donnie Walsh's contender in the making. If he assumes that role, then Wilson's scoring (which, at least lately, has been stellar) is just gravy. We'll see how Chandler fares against Durant tonight.