Over the course of the offseason, Buckets Over Broadway will be doing year-end report cards of the New York Knicks roster. The roster experienced a decent amount of overhaul this season, so we’ll simply be covering the core players of the 2012-13 team. Players will be analyzed by their offense, defense, and overall contributions throughout the season. Next up is Tyson Chandler.
Offense: Chandler began the 2012-13 season on the same pace he totaled in 2011-12. His offense, though still at times frustratingly limited, consisted of a league-high number of alley-oops, plus the usual assortment of dunks and finishes around the basket. He even surprised teammates, fans, and broadcasters alike by stepping out and hitting a midrange jumper every once in a blue moon. His field goal percentage was tops in the league again, heading towards the historical precedents he had reached the season before.
However, over time, for injuries unreported and reasons unknown, Chandler’s offensive output dipped dramatically. The Knicks found him less in the pick-and-roll, definitely, but it’s hard to pinpoint why, exactly. Perhaps different ailing body parts than Chandler refused to use as an excuse to sit out? The numbers alone tell the tale:
- Pre-All-Star: 11.4 ppg, 67.3% FG, 6.4 FG attempts per game, 11.1 rpg,
- Post All-Star: 7.6 ppg, 50% FG, 5.1 FG attempts per game, 9.1 rpg,
Chandler’s scoring output and efficiency on offense took a serious nosedive after February. He was logging high minutes because of the Knicks’ season-long mixtape of injuries to back-up big men like Rasheed Wallace, Marcus Camby, and Amar’e Stoudemire. Chandler, throughout his career, hasn’t been a big minutes player, and his 32.8 per game this season is higher than his career average. The overall drop in his offense didn’t hurt the Knicks too much, as their Offensive Rating was still better with Chandler on the floor than off. It can be looked at two ways. One, Chandler isn’t supposed to be on the floor for offense, so whatever he can give the team should be seen as a bonus; or two, given his age, mileage on his body, and knack for injuries, things won’t be getting better.
Defense: Chandler still remained the defensive backbone for the Knicks all year, but it was to a strikingly lesser degree than the prior season.
Whereas in his first season in New York, Chandler directed a bunch of mediocre defenders all over the floor, calling out screens, mismatches, double-teams, and directions for any player in orange and blue, this year, his impact was less noticeable. The defensive floor-scrambling — hedging pick-and-rolls, recovering to stop the roll man, sending help on double-teams, trapping, protecting the basket, and usually gathering the rebound — became more infrequent. It was odd, considering he helmed a lesser cast to a top five Defensive Rating in 2011-12. This year, the Knicks finished just 17th in Defensive Efficiency, according to NBA.com/Stats. Amazingly, the Knicks’ Defensive Rating was actually .5 points better with Chandler off the floor this season.
Unlike his offense, Chandler’s defense should be able to recover. Though as he gets older — a legitimate concern at this point — he may not be able to switch onto guards as effectively or rise up to block a shot, his communication and understanding of team defense can uphold. Many older defensive geniuses (Kevin Garnett, for example) have remained effective in keeping a defense glued, simply by barking out instructions and having an understanding of where to be at all times. The Knicks’ defense seemed a bit fluky this season, simply because a better defensive coach and roster would, imaginably, be a better overall defensive unit. Despite what the numbers say, it’s still hard to think the Knicks’ defense could get them anywhere without Chandler.
Overall: It will be interesting to see how Chandler rebounds next season. He began the year at a pace that could’ve placed him on First, Second, or Third All-NBA team and simply faded out. As mentioned, nagging injuries or overuse could have done it; it certainly appeared to be both in his lackluster playoffs (though he blamed catching his daughter’s illness for that). Overall, Chandler is still a vital piece to this Knicks team, but it feels as though the Knicks’ only chance of ever reaching the elite level they desire is if Chandler is that indispensable player that Knicks fans grew to love in 2011-12.