Can Jeremy Tyler Provide the Depth NY Knicks' Frontcourt Was Missing?

Ciaran GowanContributor IIIFebruary 2, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 17: Jeremy Tyler #4 of the New York Knicks shoots past DeAndre Jordan #6 and Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers during a game at Madison Square Garden in New York City on January 17, 2014.  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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE  (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

The New York Knicks have been desperate for durable frontcourt depth for much of the last two years, but they may have finally found it in the form of summer league standout Jeremy Tyler.

Injuries kept Tyler out of actionand off the rosterfor the first few months, but he's finally made his much-anticipated Knicks debut and has impressed in his initial 12 games.

Tyler is currently averaging 16.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per 36 minutes, making him (somewhat surprisingly) the most productive big on the entire roster from a per-minute standpoint.

The young center is proving he can contribute on both ends of the floor, providing the physicality, athleticism and raw energy the frontcourt has been missing for a long time.

Tyler's standout performance came in a revenge win against the Boston Celtics (who had beaten them by 41 at MSG earlier in the season), in which he scored 17 points to go with five rebounds and a pair of blocks:

New York has won four of its last five, and frankly, it wouldn't have been possible without Tyler, especially considering injuries to Amar'e Stoudemire, Kenyon Martin and Andrea Bargnani.

Moving forward, Mike Woodson will have some tough decisions to make rotation-wise when everyone is healthy, but it's great for the Knicks to finally have a young backup for Tyson Chandler. If nothing else, Tyler's presence affords the older guys a chance to rest and make sure they're 100 percent before they return.

The Knicks will be fighting an uphill battle to earn a decent playoff seed this season, and there's a concern that, by the time they get there, the frontcourt could be burned out. After all, Chandler and Stoudemire have yet to go into the postseason healthy during their respective tenures in New York.

Tyler's physical style has come in handy in recent victories.
Tyler's physical style has come in handy in recent victories.Jim O'Connor-USA TODAY Sports

Hopefully, with Tyler performing, the Knicks will be able to fight that uphill battle without overusing either player, knowing that they can get comparable production for 10-15 minutes from Tyler.

It's still early in Tyler's Knick career, but this is a player who's started before with the Golden State Warriors and is no stranger to professional basketball after skipping college to play abroad.

Tyler has always been a raw talent, and missing out on college ball has made him more unpolished than a typical young player, but based on his first few regular-season games and his summer-league performance, he's finally getting it together.

If all goes to plan, the Knicks will reap the benefits as they look to make a run in the second half, and he could follow in the footsteps of Jeremy Lin, Steve Novak and Chris Copeland as the next minimum salary signing to come out of nowhere and contribute significantly to a playoff push.