Posted Jan 12 2012 11:24AM
As expected, Tyson Chandler is making an impact in New York.
The Knicks added Chandler before the season to improve their defense, and through the first 10 games of the 2011-12 season, they're one of the most improved defensive teams in the league.
After holding the Sixers, who came into the game with the league's No. 1 offense, to just 79 points on Wednesday, the Knicks rank seventh in defensive efficiency, having allowed their opponents to score 97.5 points per 100 possessions (96.5 when Chandler has been on the floor). It will be tough for the Knicks to sustain a top 10 defensive ranking throughout the season, but so far, so good.
Chandler also gives the Knicks a different look offensively, with his presence in the paint pushing Amar'e Stoudemire away from the basket.
Last season, before the Knicks traded for Carmelo Anthony, Stoudemire mostly played at the five, surrounded by four shooters. Only 37 percent of his minutes were played with another big man (Timofey Mozgov or Ronny Turiaf) and 42 percent of his shots came from the restricted area, while 35 percent came from outside the paint.
After the trade, however, the Knicks had fewer quality perimeter players, and 65 percent of Stoudemire's minutes were played with another big man (Turiaf, Jared Jeffries or Shelden Williams). In his final 25 games of the season, 37 percent of Stoudemire's shots came from the restricted area, and 41 percent came from outside the paint.
This season, the Knicks are obviously going to play Stoudemire and Chandler together quite a bit. And thus far, there's a clear difference between the shots Stoudemire is taking when Chandler is on the floor and those he's taking when Chandler is on the bench.
|Stoudemire's shots with Chandler on/off the floor|
|R = From the restricted area|
O = From outside the paint
%FGA = Percent of total field goal attempts
We're looking at small sample sizes here, but we can see that Stoudemire has attacked the basket more when Chandler has been sitting. With Chandler in the lineup, Stoudemire has seemingly transformed into a stretch four. And with the way he's been shooting, that is not a good thing.
The shot selection affects Stoudemire's numbers in two ways. First, his shooting percentage is worse with Chandler on the floor (37 percent) than it is with Chandler on the bench (57 percent). Second, his free throw rate (FTA/FGA) is worse with Chandler on the floor (0.37) than it is with Chandler on the bench (0.57).
Anthony is actually shooting much better when Chandler is in the game, but overall, the Knicks have been much better offensively with Chandler is sitting.
|Knicks' efficiency with Chandler on/off the floor|
|OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions|
DefRtg = Points allowed per 100 possessions
NetRtg = Point differential per 100 possessions
Obviously, it's early, the Knicks are still figuring things out, and Stoudemire won't continue to shoot so poorly from the outside. Over the previous four seasons, he shot 44.7 percent from mid-range, but this year, he's shooting just 31.8 percent on shots between the paint and the arc. Further, Chandler's defensive impact is probably worth the additional jump shots that Stoudemire has been taking.
But it's clear that when Stoudemire's playing alongside another big man, he's not the same offensive force as he is when he's the man in the middle. And thus far, the Knicks' new big three hasn't played that big. The team has outscored its opponents by just two points in the 191 minutes Anthony, Stoudemire and Chandler have been on the floor together.
On the opposite coast, DeMarcus Cousins is doing the opposite of Stoudemire, playing closer to the basket in his second season.
As a rookie, Cousins took 44 percent of his shots from the restricted area and 35 percent of his shots from outside the paint. This season, he has attempted 62 percent of his shots from the restricted area and only 25 percent of his shots from outside the paint. (And those numbers have been about the same under both Paul Westphal and Keith Smart.)
Overall, Cousins is only shooting slightly better this season (44.3 percent) than he did last year (43.0 percent), because he's not finishing near the rim as well. But his free-throw rate is up (from 40 free throw attempts per 100 shots from the field last season to 51 this season), making him a more efficient scorer.
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