First Season Deemed a Success Chandler, Curry Can't Wait for Next Year to Begin

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Byline: Mike McGraw Daily Herald Sports Writer

Tyson Chandler is keeping a list in his head.

It includes all the players he can't wait to see again next year and the years to follow.

"Some players got the best of us and some players we just want to see again," said Chandler, speaking both for himself and fellow 19-year-old Bulls rookie Eddy Curry. "Next year, it becomes personal. It's a whole different situation."

Once the Bulls decided to peg their future on Curry and Chandler last year on draft night, the one clear mission this season was to get them acclimated to NBA life and affirm the belief that they might someday lead the Bulls back to the NBA Finals.

In that regard, the season has been a success. Not a rousing triumph, but a success.

"Definitely. I think they've been brought along very well," agreed Bulls general manager Jerry Krause. "They've had the right amount of exposure. We've talked about gradually doing it. It's been gradually done.

"I'm very satisfied with them. And yet, we know we have to do a big job with them this summer. We're very aware of it. We talk about it all the time. We can't be slap-happy about what we've got now. We've got to get better."

The fact that the Bulls had only 21 victories heading into Wednesday's season finale at Charlotte is largely irrelevant. Boosting their win total from 15 to 21 after trading away their best player, Elton Brand, might qualify as encouraging news, however.

Chandler, a 7-foot-1 power forward from Compton (Calif.) Dominguez High School, averaged 19.5 minutes this season and started 30 games. Among the recent spate of players who jumped straight from high school to the NBA, only Kevin Garnett and Darius Miles saw more playing time as rookies.

Curry wasn't far behind. The 6-11 center from Thornwood High School started 30 games and averaged 15.8 minutes and 6.6 points.

This bodes well for the Bulls, because the trend for NBA players who skipped college is rapid improvement, as long as they receive immediate playing time.

Garnett, Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady were well on their way to becoming stars by their third seasons. Chandler believes that formula can continue here.

"I think this first year was a learning experience," Chandler said. "Our sophomore year is going to be coming in and not making the same mistakes we did our rookie year. Our third year, we should be polished."

"If that was the point of the season, I think the goal was accomplished," Curry said. …