In Defense of Tyson Chandler

Another All-Star voting behind us, another year of fans, at least the intelligent ones, pleading for reform. It goes without saying that this method of voting, in which players will start in the NBA’s annual All-Star game, is built to honor the most popular and well-known players, but not neccesarily the best. To those who want to see the best basketball players on the planet collide in one exhibition game, this system is an utter disappointment nearly every single year. Many deserving players have fallen prey to this lunacy, and as much as we complain and whine and moan and beg and wish and dream, there are no signs that this mockery of the All-Star Game will be resolved. As New York Knicks fans, we collectively feel victimized this time around as Tyson Chandler, last year’s Defensive Player of the Year and quite possibly the best center in the Eastern Conference today, was not voted in as a starter. So here I sit, typing away during this frigid New York day, in defense of Tyson Chandler.

According to Basketball-Reference.com, here are the statistical categories Tyson Chandler currently leads the NBA in:

  • Offensive rebounds (171)
  • Field goal percentage (67.3%)
  • True shooting percentage (69.7%)
  • Effective field goal percentage (67.3%)
  • Offensive Rating (138.3)

Immediately, you’ll notice that Tyson Chandler is easily the most efficient offensive player in the league. Leading in field goal percentage and two advanced shooting percentages, Chandler has established himself as a historic scorer in quality, over quantity. Tyson attempts 11.8% of the Knicks field goals, and makes 17.5% of the Knicks field goals, which is pretty insane in its own right. Chandler also averages just 1.3 turnovers a game, once again maintaining the trend of being efficient with the basketball.

On to his rebounding. Chandler is grabbing 12 boards per-36 minutes, and his constant tap-backs on the offensive glass often do not end up on the stat sheet. His total rebound percentage, per B-Ref is 19.3, third-best for starting Eastern Conference centers. The teams of those two centers ahead of Tyson are no where near making the Playoffs. He’s also accumulated 7 games this season with 15+ rebounds, or, to put it differently, he’s grabbed 15+ rebounds, roughly, once every five games.

Speaking of team records, Tyson’s New York Knicks are the second-best team in the East, trailing the Miami Heat by just a single game. How much did Chandler have to do with those wins? I checked B-Ref’s Win Shares statistic to find out. Win Shares, in it’s brief description, is an estimate of the number of wins contributed by a player. For the full breakdown of how it’s measured and how viable of a statistic it is, click here. Chandler ranks fourth in the entire league in Win Shares for this season, ahead of teammate Carmelo Anthony, and behind only Kevin Durant, Lebron James and Chris Paul. Some decent company, I think.

Tyson’s defense has not been at the level it was throughout last year’s campaign, although it’s still leaps beyond passable. Chandler has yet another shot at claiming the Defensive Player of the Year award, and like most attempts from the opposition, the repeat is not far out of reach. When the game is on the line however, Tyson is back into his defensive form. In the final 3 minutes of a game where the Knicks were either ahead or behind by 5 or fewer points, Chandler’s defensive rating is a staggering 92.3, per NBA.com’s stats tool. In those same instances, Chandler’s offensive rating was a 116.9, and his true-shooting percentage clocked in at 107.1%. Without a doubt, Chandler is there when the Knicks need him most.

Statistics don’t tell Tyson’s entire story… not even half of it. There are some things you’ll never know about Chandler if you haven’t watched him play. This is what makes him all the more impressive. His threat as an alley-oop finisher momentarily freezes defenses when the Knicks run high pick-and-rolls, leading to penetration by Carmelo Anthony or Raymond Felton. His offensive tap-backs during crucial moments give the Knicks extra offensive possessions. His defensive effort is largely the focal point of major Knicks runs, which shift the entire momentum of the ball game. His strong picks shield off defenders for the Knicks shooters such as Steve Novak or J.R. Smith, and they are heavily relied upon in the many plays head coach Mike Woodson runs for those shooters. Chandler simply has a hand in everything the Knicks do on the court, and the other hand is stopping the opposition from doing what they’d like to do.

There are my words defending Tyson Chandler, who I believe is the best center in the East. Take them as numbers that don’t prove a thing, or a stubborn, biased Knicks fan throwing a tantrum. However you take it, whatever you want to believe, the deserving player won’t be starting at the center position third forward spot for the Eastern Conference All-Stars come February. I felt the need to expose this, in defense of Tyson Chandler.