Tyson Chandler being on the New York Knicks and his value as a center can bring forth many different opinions.
Some Knicks fans point to is incredible job of changing the culture in Dallas and being the second best player (sorry Jason Terry) on the only team to beat the Miami Heat in a playoff series in the “Big 3” era as evidence that he is a very valuable cog to a winning team.
Some Knicks fans will lament that signing him forced the team to amnesty Chauncey Billups, which leaves Amar’e Stoudemire’s contract on the books with no escape. And some other Knicks fans believe that he is a good defensive player who doesn’t bring too much offensively, citing his total lack of a low post game. Let’s find out his real impact on the team.
Despite a woeful second round of the playoffs for the Knicks, Chandler was at worst the second most valuable Knick this past season.
He was the team’s best defensive player, the second best offensive player, and at least from the outside appeared to be the team leader. This year Chandler was in the top 10 in a number of statistics. The most surprising ones, aside from is .207 win shares per 48 minutes, fourth in the league only behind LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Chris Paul and also leading the team in the statistic for the second straight year, to some are the offensive statistics.
This season Chandler’s offensive rating (133) led the entire NBA. Obviously anyone who watches basketball knows that he isn’t the best offensive player in the league but it would be unwise to simply dismiss this statistic. Whether it is his incredibly efficient shooting (.671 True shooting percentage, also led the league), his offensive rebounding (14.1, third in the league), or is excellent pick-and-roll play Chandler really opens things up for offenses.
In fact the Knicks lineup of Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, and Chandler ranked sixth in the NBA of all 158 lineups that have played at least 100 minutes together with an offensive rating of 119.3. Considering that for much of the year Felton, Kidd, and Smith were erratic offensively (and just not very good defensively) the burden of creating points fell more so on Chandler and Anthony.
No, Chandler does not have the low post game of Tim Duncan or even Roy Hibbert but scoring is just one part of offense. As stated before his offensive rebounding (often via tipping the ball out to a teammate) and ability to suck the defense in on pick-and-rolls (38 percent of his shots were dunks and his efg was 1.000% on those shots) make him a real force offensively even with his limited touches.
But Chandler is better known for his defensive prowess.
Chandler won DPOY last year and was lauded by many NBA analysts for essentially having to guard all five positions. Stuck with subpar defenders for both of the last two years, Chandler is the defensive anchor who must keep the team from essentially giving up points at will.
The Knicks overall defense was not very good this year, sporting a defensive rating of 106.3, 18th in the league. When looking at the player’s individual defensive ratings on the team, only one (Kidd with 103) had a lower rating than Chandler’s 104. Anthony, Iman Shumpert, Felton, and Smith all had ratings between 106-108. During the regular season the Knicks didn’t see much of a dip in defensive rating when Chandler left the floor (though one has to wonder how almost always sitting against the second unit affects this) but saw an eight point rise (95 to 103) in the statistic when he left the floor in the playoffs, this even against the offensively challenged Celtics and Pacers.
Overall Chandler these past two years has been of immense value to the Knicks and it would be very difficult to imagine many other centers being able to help bring the success the Knicks have had over the past two years. Is Chandler Dwight Howard? No, he’s not but you’d be hard pressed to find many other centers that can both lead a defense and greatly impact an offense without demanding the ball on too many possessions.