Starter: Deandre Ayton
Reserves: Tyson Chandler, Alan Williams
Once again, we can make a presumption that Deandre Ayton will be the team’s starting center when the season begins, however the team could still begin the season with Tyson Chandler as the starter and ease Ayton in a little more rather than throwing him to the wolves.
That being said, I would be surprised if when healthy Ayton’s name isn’t written in pen on the starting lineup card before each game. In fact, if he doesn’t start game one of the season due to anything other than an un-yet sustained injury, fans then should actually be a little worried.
Ayton’s first backup will be Tyson Chandler who will be entering his 18th season in the Association. Chandler hasn’t been a primary backup since all the way back in 2004-05, his fourth season in the league and second to last with the Chicago Bulls, but should thrive in the role as the lesser minutes as fewer minutes hopefully means a healthier season for him. If so, maybe that would allow him to play more than 46 or 47 games, the very number of games he has appeared in in each of the past two seasons.
That’s not to mention the mentoring that Tyson will be able to offer Ayton, hopefully helping him become a better pro and player quickly.
Alan Williams too might be retained (we’ll find out soon) and if so will serve as Tyson Chandler’s primary backup. This is doubly important if Chandler isn’t able to play more than 50 games, as Williams will then serve as Ayton’s backup.
Of course, barring trades or free agency signings, behind Chandler will be Chriss and Bender, with Bender potentially holding the edge as his shooting would force a center to remain on him out at the arc opening up driving lanes for the guards and Jackson.