Addressing the media for the final time of the season on Thursday, Tyson Chandler said there's not a big gap between the Knicks and the Heat and Bulls. He called his team "explosive," but said they just need some fine-tuning to compete with the beasts in the East.
That fine-tuning includes Chandler wanting to return stronger and become more of an offensive threat next season.
"I want to come back in better condition and I want to be more of a force on the block," he said. "I want to be able to pass better out of pick-and-rolls. I just want to become more of a threat. Myself and Amare, we really have to become a threat on the block. I mean, we have the pieces here and we have to get better. ... I've got to come back a better player next year."
Looking at Chandler's scoring numbers from this past regular season, he only scored 22 of his 699 total points (0.03 percent) on the block in post-up situations, and only nine points in isolation (0.01 percent). He did most of his damage in pick-and-rolls and cuts to the basket, scoring 231 points (33 percent) and 208 points (30 percent). Here's the full breakdown:
Chandler By Play Type During Regular Season
Points | Points per play | Percentage of scoring
Pick-and-rolls -- 231 points | 1.229 | 33
Cuts to the basket -- 208 | 1.518 | 30
Putbacks off offensive rebounds -- 103 | 1.096 | 15
Transition -- 83 | 1.482 | 12
Post-up -- 22 | 1.000 | .03
Isolation -- 9 | 1.000 | .01
Other -- 41
Source: ESPN Stats & Info
Chandler called the season "crazy and difficult" based on the coaching change and all of the injuries, but he's looking forward to training camp where he'll have more time to refine his game, while learning how to blend in with Stoudemire and the rest of his teammates.
"It's very important because that's where you kind of get your identify, defensively and offensively," he said. "I thought we did a great job of just becoming a good defensive team throughout the season without any of that. When you have a full training camp and say, 'This is going to be our system, this is how we're going to attack people,' it makes it a lot easier."
It will obviously be a lot easier on the team if Chandler, Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony can all learn how to co-exist. When they were together on the court this past season, their plus-minus was a poor -9, and the team's field goal and 3-point field goal percentages were only 45.1 and 26.8, respectively. The spacing on the court was sometimes jammed -- mostly based on Chandler and Stoudemire occupying similar space -- which slowed down ball movement, and limited good shots and open looks from downtown.
In fact, if you look at the Knicks' top-four five-man lineups from this past season (based on plus-minus), the top three don't include the Big Three. Here's the full breakdown:
1. Baron Davis, Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler -- +44
2. Jeremy Lin, Iman Shumpert, Landry Fields, Steve Novak and Tyson Chandler -- +23
3. Jeremy Lin, J.R. Smith, Steve Novak, Jared Jeffries and Tyson Chandler -- +21
4. Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler -- +20
Source: ESPN Stats & Info
The best lineup is further proof that the Knicks played better when Anthony operated as the power forward, Stoudemire was sitting on the bench and Chandler became more of a rebounder and inside scorer (areas in which he's been more effective than Stoudemire, based on averages and percentages). But the team needs the trio to be on the same page so their success can be maximized.
If Chandler becomes a better low-post player, as he discussed (along with Stoudemire), that will enable the Knicks to engineer a more balanced offense. The Big Three would be able to have more defined roles, instead of stepping on each other's toes too much.
For example, in one situation, Chandler could be on the block, Melo on the wing, Stoudemire popping out off a down screen for the midrange jumpshot and the team's shooters (most likely Steve Novak and J.R. Smith) rotating on the perimeter for the three. Melo could also play the post with Chandler and Stoudemire setting screens for each other to get open, especially cutting to the basket. In fact, all those elements have the makings of a Triangle-looking offense, especially if Melo can become a more willing passer and Jeremy Lin can improve his 3-point shot (he's already an aggressive attacker). Mix in occasional pick-and-rolls, and the Knicks will have the full arsenal.
In the end, how Chandler and Stoudemire work together is arguably the most critical component to the success of the starting five's offense. They can't do too much of the same thing. Developing new skills, as Chandler pointed out, is essential for them to play off each other better, while allowing Melo to still be, well, Melo.
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