The New York Knicks emerged with a 1-1 record after the first two games of the 2013-14 season, but there is a bigger storyline than that brewing in the land of orange and blue.
Tyson Chandler is playing like an absolute beast.
Although it’s been just a small sample, Chandler’s dominance on both sides of the ball is extremely encouraging for the Knicks. Through New York’s opening pair of games, the 12-year veteran is putting up over eight points, 12 boards and four blocks a game while converting 53.3 percent of his shot attempts.
Chandler willed the Knicks past the Milwaukee Bucks in the fourth quarter of the regular season opener, slamming down two dunks and swatting a layup attempt by the Deer with under three minutes left in the game. Sparked by the energy of their center on both ends, the Knicks came out on top, 90-83.
Against the Chicago Bulls about 24 hours later, the former Defensive Player of the Year had an astounding 19 rebounds to go along with seven points and two assists. His defensive presence gave Derrick Rose (7-23) trouble in the paint all game, but the former MVP’s last heave over Chandler’s outstretched arms with under six seconds lifted the Bulls to an 82-81 victory.
After adding a mid-range jumper to his scoring repertoire, Chandler has been efficient and effective on the offensive end. He looks healthy and strong, but the Knicks must find a viable backup at some point, being that Coach Mike Woodson has his starting center playing 34 minutes a game.
Seeing Chandler thrive against one of the best frontcourts in basketball—Chicago’s Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer—gave Knicks fans a breath of fresh air after watching Roy Hibbert have his way against New York in the playoffs last year.
Chandler is indispensable for the Knicks, and he’ll have to continue his elite level of play when N.Y. goes against the top teams in the East. The great patience he showed in jumping straight up—not swatting at the ball or chasing the shooter—against Rose will be the same technique he must use against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Most other playoff-bound teams in the East, like Hibbert’s Indiana Pacers, Brook Lopez and Kevin Garnett’s Brooklyn Nets and even the Cleveland Cavaliers, with Andrew Bynum and Anderson Verajao, are huge up front.
If Chandler can continue playing with the same amount of effort, energy and effectiveness that he’s exerted in the first pair of regular season games, the Knicks will be able to go toe-to-toe with any team in the league.