Breaking Down Why Tyson Chandler Is Invaluable to NY Knicks Success

Daniel O'BrienFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2012

Nov. 26, 2012; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) reacts on the court against the Brooklyn Nets during the first half at the Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports
Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

He doesn't own a go-to post move, and he can't shoot worth a lick, but Tyson Chandler is a pivotal part of the New York Knicks attack and one of the most important figures in the Eastern Conference.

What exactly makes him invaluable to Mike Woodson's crew?

For starters, he provides the kind of physical defense and rim protection that championship teams need.

The 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year never quits battling for position and making life difficult for opposing post players.

He wears down his foes and dictates the nature of play in the paint. Only on rare occasions does his physicality get him in trouble.

Chandler is a master of playing strong while the opponent is pushing toward the hoop and then going straight up with both hands to alter shots without fouling.

He isn't known as a prolific shot-blocker, but that skill is certainly in his tool box. He can swat shots with either hand, and he's always a threat to swoop in as a help defender and block.

Just ask Dwyane Wade about Chandler's left-handed shot-blocking skills:

In addition to providing the Knicks a primary source of low-post defense, he's also a relentless presence on the glass.

Chandler's work on both ends of the floor helps end challengers' possessions and keep New York's possessions alive. He's currently third in the NBA in offensive rebounds, and he's been in the top 10 in offensive rebounding percentage four times in his career.

He doesn't grab boards at a Kevin Love-type clip, but his hustle gives New York so many extra possessions.

Even when he can't grasp an offensive rebound himself, he attempts to swat the ball out toward his guards on the perimeter.

He did this extremely effectively in crucial situations for the Dallas Mavericks, and he's doing it again for Carmelo Anthony and company. It helps the team control the flow of the game, whether it wants to get more shots up or simply chew more time off the clock.

In the following example against the Chicago Bulls, Chandler's signature volleys gave the Knicks extra chances in overtime.

His mobility and agility help New York in every area of the game. Chandler has solid lateral quickness and end-to-end speed considering he's 7'1".

This comes in handy when the Knicks' defense needs to switch on a screen because Chandler can defend most guards, at least for a little bit.

For Woodson and the rest of the coaching staff, it means less of a headache defensively because he's not a liability on switches like most 7-footers. 

The mobility also helps when returning from hedges on help defense and when working a pick-and-roll 25 feet from the hoop. 

Chandler's end-to-end speed helps the aging Knicks on the fast break. He can beat most centers down the floor and pose matchup problems during 2-on-1 breaks.

In this particular clip, he's not even really sprinting, but a little bounce in his step at the beginning of the play was enough for him to beat Charlie Villanueva and seamlessly work with J.R. Smith.

What about in the half-court offense?

It's great to have a guy like Chandler in the lineup because he's not the kind of player who needs a few shots to "get in a groove" and really be a part of the flow of the game.

The shooters take care of the perimeter offense, Carmelo Anthony takes care of the low-post moves and Chandler takes care of the rest.

He leads the NBA in field goal percentage (70 percent) because he stays focused on his role and is lethal in the pick-and-roll. Chandler feasts off high-percentage opportunities, such as well-timed putbacks, rim runs or rolls to the tin.

New York can't rely on him to create anything off the dribble or be a dynamic distributor, but it has the comfort of knowing he'll never take an ill-advised shot, and he'll always finish strong.

In the two-man game and pick-and-roll, Chandler does a fine job of feeling out the defense, finding the open space and timing his approach toward the rim.

One of the main reasons he's shooting 70 percent from the field is that he's clicking with Raymond Felton in the pick-and-roll. Chandler is 50-of-70 on pick-and-rolls so far this season (71.4 percent).

Last, but definitely not least, Chandler is invaluable because of his championship pedigree, positive energy and intensity on the floor.

His vocal leadership and amplified adrenaline are contagious to the rest of the team, many of whom have no championship experience.

When he gives a grizzly-bear roar after a monster slam or block, it's his way of rallying the troops and letting everyone in the arena know the Knicks are alive. His teammates can't help but get fueled by that.

All of these attributes make Chandler a special player and arguably the most important piece for New York.

If the Knicks make a run this spring, he could be one of the most influential players in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

*Statistics gathered from Basketball Reference and Synergy Sports, accurate as of 12/25/12

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