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The Tyson Files, Pt. 1 - Why Tyson Matters

A tall, bearded man plays for the Knicks. He was good once...perhaps he can be good again.


Two weeks later, it's still difficult to completely quantify the craptitude of Tyson Chandler's performance in the playoffs - so difficult, in fact, that I had to invent the word "craptitude" specially for this occasion.

Ten Knickerbockers played in at least nine of the team's 12 playoff games - Tyson finished 8th in PER, ahead of only the two back-court black holes astronomers have dubbed "J.R. Smith" and "Jason Kidd":

1 Carmelo Anthony 28 12 481 20.5 .497 .434 2.5 18.2 9.7 9.3 1.5 0.4 8.2 38.0
2 Raymond Felton 28 12 454 16.5 .490 .472 4.1 6.8 5.4 23.4 2.4 1.1 10.4 20.4
3 Kenyon Martin 35 12 253 16.3 .587 .580 7.0 19.3 12.7 7.6 2.0 6.7 12.0 12.7
4 Steve Novak 29 9 50 15.1 .692 .692 4.4 5.1 4.7 0.0 1.1 0.0 0.0 12.5
5 Iman Shumpert 22 12 337 14.2 .528 .500 5.9 20.6 12.7 8.4 2.1 0.9 11.7 17.2
6 Pablo Prigioni 35 11 230 13.8 .547 .547 1.0 8.4 4.4 24.8 3.4 0.4 11.8 10.6
7 Chris Copeland 28 9 93 13.8 .599 .583 2.4 9.7 5.7 1.9 3.0 0.0 11.5 18.1
8 Tyson Chandler 30 12 350 12.9 .576 .538 12.6 17.6 14.9 1.9 1.3 4.0 15.7 9.6
9 J.R. Smith 27 11 351 10.8 .432 .387 1.9 16.8 8.8 8.0 1.7 1.4 9.9 27.7
10 Jason Kidd 39 12 247 5.1 .213 .180 3.1 18.2 10.1 14.4 2.7 1.6 33.4 7.6
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/30/2013.

I want you to pay special attention to the defensive rebounding percentages, which I've highlighted - Chandler, the 7'1 defending Defensive Player of the year, only managed to post the sixth-best percentage on the team. I know rebounding isn't everything...but Jason Kidd? If you're going to be out-rebounded by a corpse, Tyson, at least let it be the corpse of a front-court player.

In terms of per-game defensive rebounding, Tyson came in fourth, behind Melo, Shump, and - I shit you not - J.R. STOP THE PRESSES - J.R. Smith did something better than someone else? And on a basketball court, no less? Hard to believe, I know, but it's true.

I can't believe it's come to this, but perhaps it's time to remind people that Tyson Chandler is a particularly good basketball player. Even if you ignore the DPOY award, the Olympic gold medal and the All-Star Game appearance, you can't ignore the fact that Tyson Chandler has been one of the most efficient basketball players of all time.

How efficient has he been? He averaged at least ten points and nine rebounds on over 60% shooting, just like he did the year before, and the year before that. And that is a pretty rare feat - Tyson and Hall-of-Famer Artis Gilmore (1980-85) are the only two players in NBA history to average at least a 10-and-9 on 60% shooting in three consecutive seasons. Tyson, Gilmore and Wilt Chamberlain are the only players to pull of this trick in back-to-back season. In fact, only ten players have ever put up at least one such season. Here's the breakdown:

  • Artis Gilmore (5 seasons: 1980-1985)
  • Tyson Chandler (4 seasons: '07-'08, 2010-13)
  • Wilt Chamberlain (3 seasons: '66-'67, '71-'73)
  • Dwight Howard (2 seasons: '06-'07, '09-'10)
  • Kareem Abdul-Jabbar ('79-'80)
  • Kevin McHale ('86-'87)
  • Shaquille O'Neal ('04-'05)
  • Buck Williams ('90-'91)
  • Tyrone Hill ('96-'97)
  • Andris Biedrins ('07-'08)

Let that list wash over you for a second - you have four dudes already in the Hall, one dude (Shaq) who will be a no-doubt, first-ballot inductee in three years, and another dude (Howard) on a clear Hall trajectory. You also have Buck Williams...and there ain't nothin' wrong with that, baby!

While the Knicks will be fairly limited this off-season in terms of personnel moves, they still have a big decision to make in terms of overall basketball philosophy - to go big or to go small. I'm not here to argue for one way or the other, but I would like to point out Tyson Chandler's importance, regardless of the Knicks' philosophical direction. The way I see it, right now there are only two Knicks locked into definite spots in the starting lineup - Raymond Felton will be the starting point guard, and Chandler will be the starting center. And that's it - everything in between is up in the air. We know Melo and Shump will be starting, but we don't know at which position. Amar'e Stoudemire may or may not start.

If the Knicks choose to go with this season's small-ball lineup (Felton/KEEP PABLO!/Shump/Melo/Tyson), then Chandler takes on the responsibility of the lone rim-protector. He struggled a bit in that role this season, but this 5-man group did post a +4.3 points per 100 possessions in 154.1 total minutes in the regular and post-season. Also, this grouping was a victim of bad timing - by the time Pablo was added to the starting lineup, Tyson was already injured. Over the entire regular season, Pablo and Tyson were a mouth-watering +17.4 points per 100 possessions in their 311.8 minutes on the court together.

Should the Knicks choose to go big with Amar'e starting alongside Tyson, they would be doing so because they believe that this lineup would improve in three areas: low-post scoring, rebounding and defense. If this happens, Tyson will still carry a heavy burden, since Amar'e is great at the first thing, merely adequate at the second thing, and a complete disaster at the third thing. No matter which lineup the Knicks choose, a majority of the defensive burden will fall to Tyson. This burden can be lessened somewhat by the continued improvement of Iman Shumpert and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, KEEP PABLO, but it will still be Tyson's to carry. He's shown in the past he's more than capable of doing this, but he certainly faltered this season.

Now comes the hard part: will Tyson come back strong in 2013-14? Stay tuned for Part 2 of "The Tyson Files", where I will examine this very question. Until next time, Knicks fans...