People say that the New York Knicks lost an important piece of their frontcourt when they traded Tyson Chandler to the Dallas Mavericks. They say that even if it was a move primarily aimed at getting rid of Raymond Felton and getting themselves into the 2014 NBA Draft, the Knicks got considerably worse at the center position. I tend to disagree.
Chandler came to New York as an NBA Champion and a piece that was supposed to form New York’s version of the Big Three with Amar’e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony — it never happened. Injuries and chemistry problems got in the way of the big man, who made more headlines while off the court than because of his performance. Yes, his energy was great and his competitiveness was even better, but being part of the dismal 2013-14 Knicks got the best of him and his stay in New York had to come to an end.
Now the Knicks need someone to follow his steps and be the go-to guy for protecting the rim on defense as well as run pick-and-rolls with the guards on the offensive end. Or do they?
Cole Aldrich has a similar game compared to Chandler in terms of defense. They are strong rim protectors, they get rebounds on a consistent basis and they don’t get bullied in the paint. Offensively, I’d have to say Aldrich is actually more dynamic than Chandler, who would only score off of inside passes and in pick-and-rolls. He couldn’t put the ball on the floor or shoot from the distance to save his life. Aldrich has actually developed a baby hook that can be useful to get some points, while still being able to do everything Chandler did.
Samuel Dalembert is just a defensive guy. He’s a good old school center who will make sure no one gets trigger happy when inside the paint, but not much else.
Stoudemire, on the other hand, is a good player. He is strong (when healthy) and defends very well (when he wants to), but the difference here is that he can score. His post play is good and his perimeter shot is better. If Stoudemire decides he wants to be good in the triangle offense and actually starts passing the ball efficiently, he will be a better asset for the Knicks as a center than Chandler ever was.
The team still has two other guys, Andrea Bargnani and Jason Smith, who pretty much live in the mid-range area, so they are not real comparisons. When they get to the floor it’s because the lineup around them is not going to be one focused on post up plays and instead focused on spreading the defense and letting the guards do the dirty job.
So to answer the question of who will replace Chandler, I’d say nobody. They don’t need to, and considering the offensive dynamics and defensive consistency that the triangle is supposed to bring, I think they will be better off without him. Can you imagine Chandler moving off-the-ball and getting open for elbow shots? Me neither.