Though the Knicks have struggled, they are 5-1 when Chandler scores 17 points or more. In a league with fewer big men dominating the way they used to (Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum being exceptions), the Knicks are poised to help Chandler, one of the game’s best defensive centers, elevate the other side of his game.
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Should Tyson Chandler Garner All-Star Game Consideration?
Last season, Amar'e Stoudemire took all of New York City by storm, leading the Knicks' early success and becoming the first player to represent the team as a starter in the NBA All-Star Game since Patrick Ewing in 1992.
This season, however, it was Carmelo Anthony who, by helping keep the Knicks' heads above water, was voted an Eastern Conference starter for the star-studded contest. Though his groin injury should not keep him out through All-Star break, it is unknown at this point how Anthony will feel and if he will prefer to instead use the break to rest the various injuries that have plagued him all season long.
Though Anthony has already been voted in, and Stoudemire's placement in the game seems unlikely given his early season struggles, there is one other Knick who deserves consideration for a reserve spot heading into tonight's announcement of the full All-Star Game rosters on TNT.
No, folks---that man is not Jeremy Lin, regardless of how many Knicks fans may desperately beg to differ at this point. The New York Knick deserving All-Star Game consideration is none other than reigning NBA champion Tyson Chandler.
Since first donning orange and blue, Chandler has almost single handedly elevated the Knicks into one of the league's top 10-15 defensive squads. It's no secret that he was recruited by New York to be the quarterback of their defense, elevating an effort of the team's game that was otherwise non-existent in recent seasons. The big man has certainly cemented his presence as an influential force both on and off the court for the Knicks, which is exactly what they had hoped for.
What's come a bit more unexpected, however, has been Chandler's offensive production. In addition to filling up the stat sheet on a nightly basis, averaging 9.9 rebounds, 1.3 blocks, and 1.1 steals, he is also averaging 12 points while leading the league with a shooting percentage that nears 70%.
With all that said, it may be true that Chandler's point average simply doesn't do justice for what's to come. The big man, along with many of his teammates, is rapidly reaping the benefits of playing with a floor general like Lin, as the point guard has found Chandler inside over and over again for easy buckets. The NBA champion has been powering home dunks above the rim, igniting fans and more importantly, uplifting his team during their recent three game winning streak.
I examine the benefits of featuring Chandler more on offense in my latest contribution for the New York Times' NBA Blog, "Off the Dribble:"
Pounding the ball in to Chandler would not only give the Knicks an opportunity to throw off opponents, but it would free up Lin. The defensive pressure on the young guard has been mounting quickly. To prevent Lin’s being overwhelmed, the Knicks need to lighten his burden. More offensive output by Chandler would help. And if the Knicks are given the opportunity, Lin and Chandler can continue to develop a two-man game to keep defenders guessing.
The fact of the matter is that with Howard already starting in the All-Star Game, Chandler deserves to represent the Eastern Conference as its backup center. He is having a career year offensively, which only stands to improve with the presence of Lin. Furthermore, his defensive contributions have been on par with the skills that made him an NBA All-Defensive Second Team member, perhaps even having a greater impact on the Knicks than they had on the championship-winning Mavericks.
His impressive play all around is perhaps resulting in a career-year for Chandler, and for that, he should be recognized. With the Hawks' Al Horford out with a long-term injury, there should be not question at all that Chandler's production should warrant him a spot.
Unfortunately, for him, however, being selected as an All-Star reserve doesn't always come down to simply statistics. Due to the Knicks' early struggles and slow start, the team only boosts an 11-15 record. NBA coaches tend to normally reward "winners" with All-Star selections, and the Knicks' record would suggest that perhaps Chandler is not one this season.
In addition, though a backup center is mandated on each All-Star squad, sometimes power forwards will get selected in lieu of a true center, weaseling away from what has in the past been a poorly enforced technicality.
Knicks fans will have to tune in to TNT's selection show later tonight to find out if Chandler is granted some well-deserved props. Regardless of the choice(s), however, Chandler can rest easy his play is helping right the Knicks in a more positive direction as of late.