By Max Marcilla
While watching the Knicks this year, it has been very obvious that the trio of point guards have struggled immensely, especially when guarding an agile and quick point guard. With Raymond Felton now out with injury and the Knicks needing to rely on veterans Pablo Prigioni and Beno Udrih to carry the load, things aren’t looking bright for the Knicks backcourt—unless Tyson Chandler can recover soon.
There is no denying that Chandler, who appeared in his first all-star game last year, is a huge factor on a Knicks team that recorded 54-wins last year with him healthy for the majority of the season.
Despite the fact that Raymond Felton looks to be glued to the bench for “a little while” the return of Tyson Chandler could plummet the Knicks guard’s skill levels, much like he did last season. Felton is certainly not in an elite group of point guards, not even in the East where only a staggering three teams are above .500 thus far. However, he is transformed into a starting-caliber point guard when Chandler is in the lineup.
According to 82games.com, the Knicks are +7 when Chandler is in the game with Raymond Felton, and when Felton is paired up with fellow guard Pablo Prigioni, the Knicks are +10.
The main factor to the -93 mark the Knicks have posted since Chandler fractured his leg on November 5th is his ability to defend.
The Knicks are ranked 28th in the NBA on guarding pick-and-rolls, and on the other side of the ball, the Knicks are 27th in scoring on pick-and-rolls.
As everyone saw last season, a healthy Chandler produced some jaw-dropping alley-oops, that after a few weeks, became more of a common play then a highlight.
The hope for the Knicks is having a defensive presence in Tyson Chandler in the paint forcing opposing guards to put up jump shots rather than drive and get easy buckets in the paint.
The Knicks saw what they hoped was a preview of what Chandler can bring to the team this week, as Kenyon Martin put together arguably his best game of the season against Chicago.
Martin recorded 3 blocks on a single possession, and was an astounding +16, due to remarkable defensive efforts. Martin also contributed 7 rebounds, and did something that won’t show up in the stat book. He made the Bulls fear going into the paint.
Martin’s aggressive defense and hard (but smart) fouls forced the guards of Chicago to stay around the perimeter. Bulls starting guard Kirk Hinrich took 11 shots, making just 3 of them, and he was 1-4 on shots within 7-feet of the hoop. Marcus Teague, the guard off the bench for Chicago, went 3-6, but only 2-4 on shots in the paint.
The Knicks have struggled, and nearly everyone has been a disappointment, but one thing is for sure: Tyson Chandler is missed, and his return will have a huge impact on the team.