Tyson Chandler is on a mission.
With the lasting memory of Game 6 recycling in his head, the former Defensive Player of the Year has dedicated a major bulk of his time to adding a new dimension to his game.
“My motivation this summer was the playoff exit and I vowed to myself that I would never allow that to happen again, I would never let my team down, and be in that situation again,” he stated.
In last year’s Eastern Conference Semifinals, Chandler and Roy Hibbert squared off in a true giant vs. giant battle. Chandler believes he did not match the Pacers big man on both ends of the floor, which led to some reflection over the summer.
“At the end of the season, I didn’t look at my teammates, I looked at myself and said, ‘Where did you let your team down?’ And, that was one of the areas I felt like I let my team down and so, I went back to the drawing board and worked on it.”
Chandler is developing a midrange jumper and a counter move off the dribble to place more pressure on his defender. The 7-footer is known for his extraordinary defensive skills but he is confident, striving to become a well-rounded center.
“The thing is, I’m an athlete and I’ve excelled defensively, there’s no reason I can’t excel offensively,” Chandler confirmed. “It’s just a mindset.”
Chandler told reporters he easily hoists over 600 jumpers during one of the training camp practice sessions.
“I’m trying to take myself out of my comfort zone. Throughout my career, I’ve been comfortable and I had success that way but in order to take it to the next level, you have to make yourself uncomfortable. Some of the drills are not comfortable yet but I feel like the more and more I do them, they will be – become second nature,” Chandler added.
Over the course of time, we’ve seen centers damage defenses by knocking down elbow and baseline shots. Patrick Ewing became a deadly jump shooter with his long wingspan and ability to fade a bit on the perimeter attempt. While Chandler is not looking to take 15-20 shots a game, he does see a golden opportunity to help his team.
“Honestly, I don’t see a big guy being able to come out and guard me around the free throw line,” Chandler explained. “I feel like my first step is quicker than a lot of the big guys in the league. If they have to come out, it gives me a direct line to the basket as well as opening up for my teammates.”
As the Knicks march closer to the preseason, keep an eye on Chandler’s midrange game. The glance in the mirror following the postseason has allowed the anchor in the paint to think outside the box, which is where you may find him enjoying unexpected success this year.