The New York Knicks have been linked to a lot of names during free agency that played the back court: Chris Paul (briefly), Jamal Crawford, Baron Davis. It is clear that the Knicks needed back court help, and in typical James Dolan fashion the Knicks have added...a center. I guess point guard will have to wait another day as the Knicks will have to hope that Toney Douglas can take another step forward in his development and really hope he can improve in his ability to distribute the basketball. But that's another story for another day.
The other interesting factor about the Tyson Chandler addition is that Chandler is a defensive minded, athletic defender, and, well, the Knicks under coach Mike D'Antoni don't play defense.
The addition of Chandler gives the Knicks three really plus front court players with Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, and Chandler, which leads to the natural question: do the Knicks know have the best front court in the National Basketball Association?
I think if you discount depth that they do.
Their front court now has a defensive presence that they have been missing, and an athletic big man. With all of the attention that Anthony and Stoudemire will draw, Chandler could have his finest offensive season with easy baskets. Even though Chandler played with a huge offensive weapon last year with Dirk Nowitzki, Nowitzki makes a lot of baskets shooting over his opposition and might not draw the same kind of double teams that Anthony and Stoudemire will draw down low. On top of that in D'Antoni's fast paced offense Chandler should get some easy looks as well. I like what the Knicks have done and think they have the best starting front court in the league now.
Who else is better?
The Lakers have a valid argument.
The Lakers can run out Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol at the same time which is impressive, but the third player in the trio would be a player of the Matt Barnes ilk. Barnes is an athletic defender who can knock down some threes, but he's not an offensive powerhouse. Really, neither is Bynum. The Lakers might have the most defensive-minded and impressive front court in the league, but I think the Knicks will be much more productive.
When you think front court you think Dwight Howard. The Orlando Magic have Dwight Howard and Big Baby Davis, but Davis is more of a really nice bench option and a player who you don't want to start for a full season in my opinion. Hedo Turkoglu has played like a big time player, but he's not any longer.
The Celtics have an intriguing front court with Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O'Neal, and Jeff Green, but O'Neal is past his prime and Garnett is approaching the twilight of his career.
Those are the big team names. But I think there are three other front courts that can approach the Knicks in terms of talent in the front court.
The Chicago Bulls have Joakim Noah, Carlos Boozer, and Loul Deng. I think this trio, though, is more limited offensively. Boozer can create some of his own offense down low, but not in the same way that Stoudemire can. Noah is a better defensive player than Chandler and similar offensive player so that's a wash, but Deng is not in the same class as Anthony. The Bulls, though, have the trump card of Derrick Rose at point guard while the Knicks have Douglas.
The second team that has a very underrated front court is the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Kevin Love's excellent production hasn't turned into a lot of wins for the Timberwolves, but that man is a double-double machine, who can also step outside and knock down three pointers efficiently. He's also one of the best big man passers in the league. They will also play Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson at the small forward position. Beasley can put up points in a hurry and Johnson has a lot of pure ability. Darko Milicic is a running joke , but last year he actually played OK with a .478 field goal percentage, the best of his career. And they also have the experienced Brad Miller and the rookie Derrick Williams. If the Timberwolves can keep all of their players they are a very talented up and coming team.
Lastly, the Portland Trailblazers Gerald Wallace and LaMarcus Aldridge at the forward position. Both are very nice players. They also have the potential with Greg Oden who can't stay healthy and the defensive minded Marcus Camby.
Even though there are some pretty good front courts out there few can approach the ability to score like the Knicks front court can, and the presence of Chandler might lead to a stop or two for Knicks this year. Chandler is a former No. 2 overall pick by the Los Angeles Clippers (his rights were traded to the Chicago Bulls in exchange for Elton Brand) who went straight from high school to the pros. Chandler has bounced around a lot, going from the Bulls to the Hornets, to the Bobcats, to the Mavericks and now the Knicks.
Chandler has had a lot of success in his career as an athletic big man who can run the floor a bit and gets some easy baskets. He doesn't create his own offense, though. He has only averaged 8.3 points per game for his entire career. His best season, statistically was in 2007 when he averaged 12.4 rebounds per game and about 10 points per game.
Chandler stands 7-foot-1 and weighs about 240 pounds. He doesn't do much with the ball in his hands, in terms of passing. He is in essence an athletic defensive presence who scores his points beating his man down the floor or on easy put backs, but what he does do very well is defend. Chandler has averaged 1.4 blocks per game and 8.8 rebounds per game for his career.
Chandler is no Chris Paul, but the Knicks have really given themselves one of the best front courts in the league.