There have been plenty of storylines about the New York Knicks this season. Most of the headlines have gone to Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire. Even Baron Davis, who has yet to step on the court for the Knicks, has gotten attention. Now point guard Jeremy Lin is the talk of the town, rightfully so.
But lost in all of these stories is the biggest one of all: Tyson Chandler. Chandler has quietly become the heart and soul of the Knicks.
Entering this season, the Knicks desperately needed to improve their defense and rebounding. That prompted Knicks owner James Dolan toacquire Chandler. And what a move this has been. Chandler has been a great defender and rebounder throughout his career, and it has continued on the Knicks. He currently leads the team with almost 10 rebounds per game. Last season, the Knicks were third worst in team rebounding differential. Chandler has helped improve this number by three points. The Knicks are no longer pushovers on the boards.
The defense has also seen a huge improvement with Chandler at center. Last season, the Knicks were the third worst defensive team in the league. Now they are an above average defense, giving up just 94 points a game.
Chandler has also provided offense for the Knicks this year. He is third in the team in scoring with 12 points per game. He leads the league among qualified players with a lofty 69.7% field goal percentage. That bests Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard by 13 percentage points.
But the real value of Chandler cannot be captured by statistics. He has added tremendous character, leadership and toughness to the team. Chandler prides himself on defense and rebounding. He plays extremely hard every minute he is on the court, and he has yet to miss a game this season. Chandler has led by example, and he demands the same from his teammates. Despite their struggles this season, you can see that the team is responding to him.
Chandler is having the best season of his career. What a concept for a newly acquired Knicks player? You do not often find 7’1” centers who play the game the way Chandler does. His size, strength, athleticism, leadership and great attitude make him truly unique in the NBA. The Knicks finally have a center, and he will anchor the team for years to come.
While the headlines continue to go to the scorers, Chandler quietly does the dirty work. The next time you are watching a Knicks game, key in on Chandler. Appreciate all that he does for the Knicks. Because without Chandler, the Knicks would be far, far worse.
Edwin Torres was born in New York City. He has been a Knicks fan since the early 1980s. He has visited Madison Square Garden on many occasions to watch the Knicks and his favorite player, Patrick Ewing. For more articles, follow him on Twitter @FlipPoker.
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