Every morning throughout the season, ESPNNewYork.com will tackle a burning question about the Knicks in our "Opening Tip."
Today's Burning Question: How much of an impact is Tyson Chandler really making?
In a point guard-heavy league, it makes all the difference to find that one game-changing center. Tyson Chandler was that for the NBA champion Mavericks last year.
So when the Knicks had a chance to get a player who could help change the tune of two of their worst categories, defensive and rebounding, it was understandable why Chauncey Billups was let go.
But the Knicks can't thank the amnesty clause just yet.
While Chandler's averages are on their way up -- they currently stand at 11.0 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.2 blocks -- he hasn't had an overall influence on the Knicks. Not only has the team performed better on defense when Chandler is not in the game, but he's had a negative impression on their offense, too. That can be assessed by looking at the team's offensive and defensive ratings (points allowed per 100 possessions) with Chandler on and off the court.
Knicks With And Without Tyson Chandler
*Offensive/defensive rating: team points scored/allowed per 100 possessions
Source: Justin Havens from ESPN Stats & Info
From a broader perspective, the Knicks overall numbers have not improved either. Two areas in which you would expect Chandler to have a significant impact would include points allowed and rebounding rate. The Knicks have not improved, relative to the league, in either of those categories. The team has allowed 3.7 more points per 100 possessions with Chandler on the court and have scored 1.5 more points per 100 possessions with him off the court.
Knicks Ranks Last Two Seasons
*The team is 1-4 in their last five games
Chandler was also brought in for his vocal leadership, which he displayed in Dallas. But after the Knicks watched film of their defensive collapse against the Bobcats Wednesday night, Carmelo Anthony said there wasn't any verbalizing going on. Chandler needs to be the anchor of this team initiative.
"The thing that kept coming back was communication," Melo said. "We weren't talking. We weren't acting, we were reacting. ... You could look at guys' faces and see that they're thinking too much. It's just a matter of us just loosening up."
One thing all the players have agreed on is that Chandler has improved the spacing on the court. Guys are feeling more open on the perimeter -- they're just not knocking the threes down yet -- and they're finding that passing lanes to the basket are becoming more accessible. Case in point: In the early part of the first quarter versus Charlotte, the Knicks found Chandler rolling to the basket three times and Amare Stoudemire for another. They combined for four dunks in only five minutes.
Of course, it's still very early in the shortened season. In any other year, the Knicks would be starting for real now. But tonight, there are no excuses. They're playing the winless 0-6 Wizards, and Chandler needs to stay out of foul trouble and have a bigger impact on both sides of the ball.
What impact do you think Chandler is making? Leave us your comments below.
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