Welcome to Court Vision, a weekly video-breakdown column on emerging trends around the NBA that you might have missed.
Chandler's a step in the right direction
Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka were the definitive winners in free agency after signing LeBron James, but their subsequent moves didn't make much sense.
Not only did the front office fail to add reputable shooters to stretch the floor, the Lakers skimped on the center position by signing JaVale McGee for the veteran's minimum and calling it a day. They even considered having James play extended stretches as a de facto center, though unsurprisingly, that plan got scrapped three weeks in.
Enter Tyson Chandler, a former champion gearing up for one last playoff push after spending the last three years mentoring the perpetual rebuild in Phoenix. The Lakers wisely scooped him up after he secured a buyout from the Suns, and now they have a decent bench piece that actually serves a useful role.
The 18-year vet is all out of springs, but the 7-footer brings two things the Lakers desperately lack: He can still solidify the defensive glass and hold his ground against post-up brutes. Chandler bossed Karl-Anthony Towns on the block in Wednesday's win, as he was able to push KAT out of the lane and force him into taking tough shots.
Beyond limiting Towns to a miserable 5-of-16 performance, Chandler also snagged nine rebounds and made a team-high seven boxouts in 23 minutes for a Lakers team that ranks 26th in defensive rebounding percentage.
Chandler also gives the Lakers a credible screener to free their shooters. McGee has exceeded expectations, but he mostly slips the screen in order to get his own look. Chandler's the opposite - he's more focused on creating separation for his teammate than trying to get himself open.
The obvious beneficiaries will be the Lakers' shooters, who consistently found open looks against the Timberwolves thanks to Chandler. Here, Josh Hart drills a three because Chandler erases Andrew Wiggins.
And here, Chandler frees up Kentavious Caldwell-Pope:
Signing the one-time Defensive Player of the Year is a step in the right direction for the Lakers, who should keep looking for buyout candidates who can fill a role. They could use a shooter, and Kyle Korver's available.
Hield becoming a more complete scorer
The Sacramento Kings were ridiculed when they swapped DeMarcus Cousins for a handful of future assets, but it worked out on every level.
Cousins' departure freed up Willie Cauley-Stein to assume the starting center position, while the draft picks Sacramento acquired turned into a solid 3-and-D wing in Justin Jackson, a lottery ticket in Harry Giles, and a decent backup point guard in Frank Mason III. The Kings also avoided the dilemma of whether to re-sign Cousins, who ultimately walked away from the New Orleans Pelicans for nothing after he tore his Achilles.
And not least, the trade also landed Sacramento's long-term solution at shooting guard. Buddy Hield is blossoming in his third season. He's averaging 20.1 points to lead the Kings in scoring, and his catch-and-shoot game fits perfectly alongside an up-tempo point guard like De'Aaron Fox.
Hield never stops moving and it gives defenders fits. Like all great shooting guards, he's always looking to get free off the ball, but he's not always trying to pop free for a jumper. He's shooting 72 percent within three feet of the basket this season, and his improved finishing has boosted his overall scoring efficiency.
Sure, the Kings would probably like Hield to show the same (or any) activity and enthusiasm on defense, but that could be said for the rest of the team. For now, Sacramento will have to settle for Hield shooting 52 percent from the field and 46 percent from deep.
Jokic playing give-and-go
Let's just take a moment to appreciate how easily the game comes to Nikola Jokic, who is averaging more assists per game (7.4) than any center in history outside of Wilt Chamberlain in 1967 and 1968.
Now if only the Denver Nuggets big man would start shooting the ball. He's attempted 18 shots over his last four games.
Sabonis anchoring 2nd unit
The Indiana Pacers quietly have a dilemma on their hands with the growth of Domantas Sabonis, who is averaging 14 points, nine rebounds, and 2.6 assists on 65.6 percent shooting in just 24.3 minutes per game.
Sabonis, thriving as the yang to Tyreke Evans' yin off the bench, has become the perfect complementary player - he's a reliable defender, he rebounds effectively, his finishing around the rim is markedly improved (55 percent as a rookie, 67 percent last season, and 82 percent this year), and he continues to uphold the family tradition of slick post passing.
Check out this pass against the Houston Rockets, where Sabonis draws the attention of all five defenders before slinging a cross-court dish to Doug McDermott for a corner three:
The Pacers would probably like to play Sabonis more, but they just signed Myles Turner to an $80-million extension six weeks ago. They can't slash Turner's minutes. It's already awkward enough when Sabonis closes games ahead of him, and playing both of them is a no-go because there's no spacing and too much overlap in the paint.
The most erroneous assist of the season came courtesy of the Dallas Mavericks' generous scorekeeping crew, who gave J.J. Barea credit for this "assist" to Wes Matthews on Tuesday:
Since the definition of an assist is largely subjective, their tabulation is prone to scorekeeper bias - but no reasonable observer would say Barea contributed to the play. Matthews simply saw the screen come in late from Dwight Powell and decided to jack up a bad shot that ended up dropping in.
Wall's lazier than ever on defense
The Washington Wizards are suffering from a crisis of leadership thanks in no small part to John Wall, who looks completely checked out.
There's an example below, but you can find a handful of these defensive gaffes from Wall in every game. Here, he gets crossed by Dennis Smith Jr., leaves Bradley Beal to pick up the switch without communicating on the play, and then doesn't even make a half-hearted attempt at a closeout. He just stands around and slumps his shoulders with the rest of his teammates.
Washington ranks third-last in defense and Wall, who used to hound the ball and once earned All-Defensive honors, seems to find any excuse to take plays off. Outside of hiking up his shorts and clapping in someone's face, Wall's not giving effort, and it's eroding the confidence of the players that he's supposedly leading.