Tyson Chandler is just one of the reasons to be disappointed for the New York Knicks this season, but it has nothing to do with his effort. In fact, Chandler’s presence is the best part of the Knicks’ defense.
He had missed 25 games this season. A majority of those games have sidelined the team’s starting center due to a small non-displaced fracture in his fibula after a bizarre collision on November 5 with Charlotte Bobcats point guard Kemba Walker.
Even when Chandler did return to help resurrect the ailing defensive front court, it has become a realization that his absence wasn’t the only problem for the squad’s porous defense.
New York’s defense does not place him as the focal point. Regardless of what Coach Mike Woodson prefers as the most useful defensive set, Chandler has proven to be the best when protecting the paint. Unfortunately, the Knicks have seen many plays executed against them with Chandler far away from the lane.
Under Coach Rick Carlisle in Dallas, Chandler ruled the zone defense. Sure, it was not the only kind of defense used in his only season with the Mavericks, but incorporating this method saves Chandler time patrolling those who enter the paint. One defensive set alone isn’t helpful for a playoff team, but it necessary if it keeps your defender engaged at his intended position.
However, teams have figured out how to dominate New York’s defensive game. When other teams need to penetrate into the lane and want Chandler out of the mix, it is a very easy task. The Knicks have been playing a normal man-to-man defense all season long. Whoever is being guarded by the Knicks center would simply walk away from the hoop and that removes the threat of Chandler protecting the paint. It’s only one of the many instances where the Knicks demonstrate their popular porous defense or what Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier refers to as Swiss cheese defense.
Despite the recent losing streak, Chandler has logged in a double-double in the past four games, including a 23-rebound effort vs. the Atlanta Hawks and 16 rebounds against the Miami Heat on Thursday. He surely isn’t the man to blame for the Knicks’ defensive struggles. He is still a great piece to build around. But in order to have him compete as a top contender, one must make him the focal point of the defense.