New York Knicks: Why Tyson Chandler Makes Knicks Title Contenders

James ToljCorrespondent IIJanuary 13, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 21: Tyson Chandler #6 of the New York Knicks defends against Sundiata Gaines #1 of the New Jersey Nets  during their pre season game  at Madison Square Garden on December 21, 2011 in New York City.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

Ever since the hype around the acquisition of Amar'e Stoudemire and the Carmelo Anthony trade died down, championship and the New York Knicks have not been used in the same sentence.

But now, after trading for Tyson Chandler in the offseason, the Knicks are in a prime position to make a move towards an NBA title.

Chandler knows just what it takes to get to the NBA Finals and take home the Larry O'Brien Trophy. He is just one season removed from winning the trophy with the Dallas Mavericks in his first year on the team.

The Mavericks became a different squad with Chandler starting. He brought a toughness that the team didn't have.

Chandler not only provided defensive toughness, but throughout his career he knew the importance of rebounding at both ends of the floor, and he brought that with him to Dallas.

The Knicks already have tremendous scoring ability. They carried it over from last year when the team was ranked second overall in points per game behind the Denver Nuggets. New York has dropped to 13th in points per game this season, but with two of the NBA's top scorers in Anthony and Stoudemire, the Knicks know where the lion's share of their points will come from.

It is the toughness that Chandler imparted in Dallas that is most needed in New York. In order for the Knicks to reclaim their status as a NBA powerhouse, they will have to dominate in two areas—rebounding and defense. And Chandler's presence has had an immediate impact.

Last season, New York was tied for 19th with the Golden State Warriors in rebounds per game with 40.5. They gave up an average of 44 rebounds a game which was 27th worst in the NBA.

On defense last season, the Knicks gave up 105.7 points per contest which tied them with the Warriors and the Phoenix Suns for 27th worst in the NBA.

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 09:  Toney Douglas #23 of the New York Knicks catches the ball from his teammate Tyson Chandler #6 of the New York Knicks as Kemba Walker #1 of the Charlotte Bobcats charges in at Madison Square Garden on January 9, 2012 in New York
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

New York still needs to play better team defense, but Chandler has helped.

The Knicks are tied for 11th with the Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards in opponents points per game with 93.7 this season.

Rebounding has improved slightly too.

New York is pulling down 40.9 rebounds per game which is good for 21st in the NBA. The Knicks opponents are grabbing 43.1 rebounds a game which is 20th overall.

Chandler is contributing by scoring in a unique manner as well. He doesn't need to be fed the ball to get points. Chandler attacks the offensive glass and puts back missed shots (leads the team with 3.3 offensive rebound per game). Chandler only takes high percentage shots and is averaging a career-high .714 from the field.

Chandler isn't doing all the work himself, though. When his team sees him working hard on defense or going the extra mile to grab rebounds, they try harder as well. Chandler's gritty mentality is rubbing off on the team slowly but surely. 

Another recent acquisition who has yet to play a single minute for the team this season will provide a boost to Chandler's game and the team in general—Baron Davis.

Like Chandler, Davis was a perfect addition to the team. He has a track record of giving a boost to whatever franchise he gets traded to or picked up by, and he makes everyone around him better which bodes well for Chandler (as well as the others).

Davis turned Jamaal Magloire and Chris Kaman into All-Stars (and Magloire is not much of an offensive threat).

The former UCLA star's passing also helped Andris Biedrins have one of the best shooting percentages in the NBA, and with Chandler's shooting percentage already soaring, imagine the possibilities.

Davis injected life into struggling franchises like the Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers as well, so even if he isn't the same player he was years ago, you can bet Anthony and Stoudemire are excited about playing with him (especially after seeing his fast-break passing skills).

And don't forget, Davis led the Warriors to one of the biggest upsets in NBA playoff history when the eighth seeded Warriors beat the Mavericks in 2007. Even if the Knicks just squeak in the playoffs, with Chandler and Davis, they can't be counted out.

With more help on the way in the form of a veteran basketball player in Davis, Chandler will be a crucial part in Knicks' resurgence.

Coach Mike D'Antoni needs to do a better job of getting his guys motivated on defense, but even if he doesn't, Chandler has already helped.

With a star-studded roster and a intimidating presence of Chandler down low, the Knicks have as much talent as any team in the league and will emerge as a serious contender for the Larry O'Brien Trophy.