The New York Knicks have had a disastrous start to this season, and things may be about to get a lot worse. As if the embarrassment of losing 102-97 to Charlotte Bobcats at home wasn’t bad enough, the Knicks lost All-Star center Tyson Chandler to a right knee injury. The 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year was injured in a first quarter collision with Kemba Walker, and X-rays were inconclusive. Chandler will undergo further tests today, and it remains to be seen how long he is out for.
Chandler’s importance to the Knicks really can’t be overstated, and his defensive presence is irreplaceable. On a team that is filled with offensive-minded players, Chandler is the defensive anchor in the paint. His ability to block shots and rebounds is what allows the Knicks to get out in the open court and take advantage of their three point shooters. Chandler’s presence is also what allows Mike Woodson to play the small lineups that the Knicks are so successful in, because Chandler can compensate for the defensive liabilities of the rest of those units.
If Chandler misses an extended period of time, the Knicks could end up being the worst defensive team in the NBA, as they have no one on the roster who can replace what Chandler does. Kenyon Martin will get the first crack at it, but he is supposed to be on limited minutes due to knee issues. Amar’e Stoudemire and Andrea Bargnani are going to play more, but neither is anything close to what you would call a reliable post defender. The only other big man on the roster is Cole Aldrich, who has very little experience.
An injury to Chandler is the one thing the Knicks could not afford this season, and he is arguably even more important to the team than Carmelo Anthony. Points allowed per 100 possessions is the gold standard of team defense statistics, and through four games, the Knicks are allowing 92.2 points per 100 possessions with Chandler on the floor and 105.6 points per 100 possessions without him. It is impossible for them to make up that kind of difference, and it will cost them games.
Hopefully Chandler will not miss more than a couple weeks, saving the Knicks from any major damage. However, if he misses a extended period of time with this injury, the Knicks will be in huge trouble. The Knicks didn’t have a plan to replace Tyson Chandler, and they are about to pay for it.