The next player to review from ESPN NBA Player Rankings is the second of the three “Big Three” – Tyson Chandler. The Knicks center jumped a whopping 14 spots up the ladder this year to a ranking of #23 from #37 in 2011. He is the second highest ranked Knick behind Carmelo Anthony who holds a rank of 17, and the 10th highest PF/C in the NBA.
This rank by ESPN for Chandler has brought widespread surprise and criticism that the rank was way too high. Some critics have argued that due to “New York media hype” and it being the “media capital of the world”, Knicks players are ranked too high. I don’t believe this to be true because you have Amare Stoudemire who dropped from 13 to 43 (don’t see any favoritism there) and Carmelo drop from 12 to 17 (I‘ll leave this up to my fellow writers to talk about the absurdity of Carmelo’s ranking).
Then we have the critics that say that Chandler is ranked too high due to his lack of offensive ability. I don’t understand why people consider Chandler a one-dimensional player who is known just for his defensive capability. When I think of this term, I think of guys like Jason Collins, Ben Wallace, Chris “The Bird” Anderson, and Tony Allen – not Chandler who you often see receiving alley-oops, getting to the free throw line and putting back missed shots off the boards.
Although I agree he is not considered a scorer, I don’t think this to be a major weakness in his overall game, and I don’t think it should effect his rankings. First off, the centers in the top 50 after Chandler are Marc Gasol, Tim Duncan, Al Horford, Zach Randolph, Roy Hibbert, Joakim Noah, and Serge Ibaka, who in the 2011-2012 season averaged 14, 17, N/A, 11, 12, 10, and 9 PPG respectively, while Chandler averaged 11 points. Not only was Chandler right in the middle in this category, but he also led the league in FG% at 67.9. And just for some added effect, I will also tell you this FG% is the 3rd best in NBA history!!!
There’s also going to be some people talking about Chandler’s playoff performance, saying that a statline of 6 points, 9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks a game should not be from a player that is ranked #23 in the country. Although it is true that Chandler did not play very well in the playoffs against the Heat, this was just one series. In addition, in game 1, Chandler had an awful Flu limiting him to 20 minutes where he had 0 points, 7 turnovers, and 3 rebounds. Take this game out and for the rest of the series he averaged 8 points 11 rebounds and close to 2 blocks a game. These stats are more like Chandler.
Finally what makes Chandler so valuable and deserving for the #23 rank is DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE. By the way, Chandler is the Defensive Player of the Year!!! On John Hollinger player profile of Tyson Chandler, he said “His presence on the court transformed the Knicks from well below average into a strong, cohesive unit.” I couldn’t have put that in better words – He is the glue of the Knick’s defense. They gave up 1.2 points per 100 possessions less with Chandler on the court, which is pretty amazing when you have guys like Amare’ Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony at his sides. In the 2010-2011 the Knicks gave up an average of 105.7 PPG, and this past season with Chandler, the Knicks only gave up 94.7 PPG which is truly unbelievable. In this past years olympics, Chandler played a pivotal role on the undersized USA team at center against teams with a lot of size.
Overall, I would be happy with any ranking in the high 20s for Chandler. I could even see Chandler drop to 24 or 25 since Manu Ginobili (25), James Harden (26), Tim Duncan (27), or Andre Iguodala (28) could move up, but I can’t see Chandler get any lower than that.
So how can Chandler improve from here and receive a higher ranking? Defensively there is not much more he could do besides avoiding technical fouls. But offensively Chandler could of course improve his post -game (doesn’t really have one) but most of all call for the ball more. There are so many times where he is wide open and Knicks teammates don’t look for him. Hopefully we see him get more involved in the offense and thus his ranking will improve next year.