So whose team is the New York Knicks? Is there an answer?
One option is small forward Carmelo Anthony, a controversial player whom some view as a superstar. A very different option would be center and NBA Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
The Anthony vs. Chandler debate is naturally polarizing. Chandler has had team success and was the league's Defensive Player of the Year this past season. He helped the Charlotte Bobcats (2010) and the Dallas Mavericks (2011) achieve the best results in their respective franchise histories.
Anthony is a more explosive player, but is known more for his one-on-one skills than his five-on-five skills.
Considering a variety of factors, here's my take on which of the two is the Knicks' MVP.
Carmelo Anthony: A-
Tyson Chandler C+
The nicks are the most valuable NBA franchise because it has the largest and perhaps the most loyal fanbase in the country. Yet those fans have not been rewarded much for their support in recent history.
The Knicks have not won a playoff series since beating the Miami Heat in the 2000 Eastern Conference semifinals.
The Knicks have not been shy about spending money, and players want to play in New York. Nevertheless, they have not seen much success since the Patrick Ewing era.
In theory, Anthony is the player who can carry the team on offense. Carmelo's PER last season of 20.4 was not as high as many might think. However, it was well above the league average of 15. For that, he earns an A-.
Tyson Chandler, on the other hand, does not produce a whole lot on offense. He sets picks and grabs rebounds, but in terms of shot creation he basically just dunks. He gets a C+ because he produces despite not having the ball in his hands very often.
Carmelo Anthony: C+
Tyson Chandler A-
Offensive efficiency and offensive production are different things. There is no doubt Anthony creates enough shots to get noticed. The problem is how few of those shots go in.
Chandler has an impressive 57.8 career field-goal percentage. Last season he shot 67.9 percent, the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain to post that high a percentage.
On the other hand, Carmelo is a career 45.6-percent shooter. Last season he dropped to 43.0 percent.
Taking a look a true shooting percentage emphasizes the difference. Chandler is tied with Magic Johnson for eighth all time in true shooting percentage. Carmelo is No. 210, slightly behind J.R. Smith.
Efficient offensive play helps your team win without putting up big numbers. So far in his career, Chandler has more total win shares than Anthony despite having fewer starts.
Carmelo Anthony: C-
Tyson Chandler A+
This difference is especially noticeable in the playoffs, where Chandler is one of the NBA's best and most fierce defenders. His career playoff defensive rating is better than that of future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.
Carmelo Anthony: D+
Tyson Chandler: A
Anthony earns a plus here because he has not physically fought with teammates or done anything else completely horrible. But he is a regular, old-fashioned ball hog who makes every player around him less productive.
Power forward Amare Stoudemire—for example—dropped from 25.3 ppg two years ago to 17.5 ppg this past season. His field goal percentage dropped by less than two percent. The main problem was that he was not getting the ball.
Anthony is a player who generally brings down teams, even when he is putting together a highlight reel. This is obvious in the NBA. but a little bit less so in the Olympics. He was one of the only players on Team USA to not play efficiently against the weak opposition. His 42 percent shooting against largely amateurs was pedestrian.
While Anthony turned a few heads by taking so many shots and not passing, he obviously made those games closer than they would have been with him on the bench.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Chandler is a player whom everyone would love to have on his team. He is a great leader and teammate and makes everyone around him better.
Carmelo Anthony: B
Tyson Chandler B+
Averaging it all together, Chandler gets the nod over Anthony. While Anthony will continue to score more points than Chandler, those points will cost his teammates the opportunity to score.
Seven players on the Knicks shot more efficiently than Anthony last season. As long as that continues, each shot Carmelo takes is a net loss to the team.
Coach Mike Woodson's primary task this coming season should be to force Anthony to try on defense and play within an offensive scheme. There is no reason he should not be able to become a quality two-way player.
Until he does, Chandler is the Knicks' MVP.