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Season in Review: Tyson Chandler
Statistically Speaking: Played in 55 games, averaging 8.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per contest. Sixteen double-doubles.
Year in Review: Poised to help take the Knicks to the next level after anchoring New York’s improved defense over the previous two years, Chandler’s season took an unfortunate turn when he fell to the ground with a broken left fibula just one week into the season. The former Defensive Player of the Year had blocked nine shots combined in the first two games and even begun to showcase some new wrinkles to his offensive game, but he'd be forced to miss the next month and a half.
Chandler’s presence in the paint has made him a lynchpin of New York’s defense since he arrived and we witnessed the consequences of his absence while he sat. The Knicks went 6-14 during the time he missed and by mid December, they were already outside of the playoff picture at nine games under .500. His return couldn't come soon enough.
As the calendar flipped to 2014, the team began to show signs of improvement. Chandler was regaining his strength just in time for the season's most grueling period -- nine of his 16 double-doubles came in February and March, a span that included seven back-to-backs.
Season Highlight: Chandler’s best performance from this past season was not a single game, but instead a 10-game stretch from late February into March, during which he averaged 12.3 points and 15 rebounds per game. The Knicks were limping through an especially challenging part of the schedule -- facing Miami, Golden State and Chicago during one brutal four-day stretch -- but thanks in part to Chandler’s determination, they were able to respond with a six-game win streak that vaulted them back into playoff contention.
Looking Ahead: Chandler presents a dilemma to any coach: his value to the team, particularly on defense, makes it hard to keep him off the court; this year, the Knicks' net rating (points per 100 possessions) was 2.9 better with him on the floor than with him on the bench. After playing 62 and 66 games in his first two seasons in New York, the leg injury and other minor maladies limited the big man to just 55 this year.
He's carried such a heavy load since joining the Knicks -- averaging 33 minutes per game the previous two years -- that preserving his body will be a major focus going forward. When he's on the floor, he remains one of the NBA's premier big man defenders, exhibiting excellent communication skills and rim-protecting abilities.
He showcased a new wrinkle to his game, connecting on 12-of-27 jumpers from 16-23 feet, but seemed to struggle finding continuity on offense at times. In addition to his own health issues, his pick-and-roll partner, Raymond Felton, was in and out of the lineup with various ailments. If he can continue to improve the shooting stroke, he'll become an even more versatile weapon out of the high post next seaosn.