Tyson Chandler: Why Veteran Center Must Lead NY Knicks in 2013

You’ve heard it about a million times by now if you are a sports fan, but the saying is true.

Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.

July 22, 2012; Barcelona, SPAIN; USA center Tyson Chandler (4) reacts during the second half of an exhibition game against Argentina in preparation for the 2012 London Olympic Games at Palau Sant Jordi. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE

That theory will prove especially true if the New York Knicks plan to make a run at a title in 2013.

While many will look at this Knicks roster and see guys like Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire as the Knicks leaders, this team will go as far as Tyson Chandler leads them.

While ‘Melo and Amar’e will certainly have to play major roles if the Knicks will have success, Chandler has to be the leader.

Leading is a mentality that Anthony either doesn’t have or isn’t willing to do through nine years of his career. Leading isn’t about scoring points, although the Knicks certainly need that from ‘Melo. Leading is about doing whatever it takes, whether it’s major thing or minor things, to win games. Leaders do the little things needed to win and don’t mind getting dirty or banged up to do it.

Leaders don’t worry about their numbers; instead they worry only about winning.

The Knicks should have one leader of the locker room and that is Chandler. Period.

Anthony and Stoudemire are the best players on this team and will be required to produce at a high level but its still Chandler that will be the quiet leader of this team.

He’s done what ‘Melo hasn’t and that’s win a title. He knows what it takes, but winning a title isn’t entirely why he’s the leader of this team. He simply impacts the game more than any other player.

Just look at the 2011 Knicks team that allowed were third-to-last in the NBA in points allowed per game with 105.7 and allowed teams to shoot 47.2 percent from the field against them, also bottom five in the league.

Throw Chandler in the mix in 2012 and those numbers dropped to 94 points per game and 44.2 percent (Top 10 in the league).

He single-handily turned this team from a laughingstock defensively to a team that was tough to score on, especially at the rim, where opposing teams shot only 48 percent on the season. Chandler blocks shots, gets steal, rebounds and more importantly protects the paint.

Defense Wins Championships.

Chandler’s lone season in the Big Apple saw him not only win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, but change a culture that desperately needed changing. The Knicks improved a great deal defensively and did so with the likes of Anthony and Stoudemire on the floor- two guys not known for giving great effort at the defensive end of the floor.

Despite all the accolades thrown on Chandler for his defensive prowess, the guy was the NBA’s most efficient scorer a season ago as well, shooting 67.9 percent from the floor, more than 10 percent better than anyone else in the league, which also could suggest that Chandler get more than five attempts per game from the floor this season.

Now look at how important that Chandler is to the Knicks by the fact that Mike Woodson is focusing on putting a defensive team on the floor in 2013, mostly because he has Chandler.

Like it or not he has to be the leader of this team. Chandler not only sets the tempo defensively, but he does exactly what it takes for a team to be successful. That can’t be said for everyone in the Knicks locker room.

Chandler is the Knicks best defender, most efficient scorer and the guy that single-handily changed the way the Knicks will play the game in the next few years.

If he’s not the leader of this team, he’s certainly the most important player on the roster. As we saw a season ago, the Knicks are simply not the same team without him.

Again. Defense Wins Championships.

Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.

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Topics: NBA, New York Knicks, Tyson Chandler

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