Amar’e's early season struggles are hard to ignore. While most are pointing the finger at Melo for the lack of cohesion, and others (see: me) are lamenting about how bad this team’s coach is at using his players the right way, the chart below throws Tyson Chandler into the mix as a candidate in the “Who Stole Amar’e's Swag” saga.
11 more points when the middle is open for STAT? 36% up to 52% shooting when Tyson is on the bench? Those are staggering improvements considering we all (again, see: me) thought that Chandler would help open up the middle for Amar’e this season.
Part of this may be due to the fact that STAT’s play without TC often comes against the opponent’s second unit. He can score without the other teams starting center playing up on him. But for anybody watching games these days, we all know it is more than that.
Obviously STAT needs to start hitting his outside jump shots. He was pretty automoatic from 12-17 feet last year, which allowed him to use a pump fake and a strong first-step to blow by some of the less-athletic 4s and 5s that were assigned to guard him. He seemed equally effective from both the inside and outside.
With his jumper on the
kinda horrifyingly long fritz, Amar’e has lost a huge tool in his offensive arsenal. But more importantly, it has forced him to look to come inside and score closer to the basket. Last year, there was nobody else down low to get in STAT’s way. This year, with Tyson down low, there is a bit of a log-jam on the interior — Chandler’s man can hedge a lot of the time and force Amar’e to alter his shot.
So, as it is playing out, rather than benefiting from Tyson’s interior presence, STAT seems to be unable to find a comfortable spot on the floor when the team’s other big man is taking up residence near the basket.
Hopefully, the team figures this out and finds a way to utilize Amar’e in a valuable way when Chandler is on the floor. Because right now, it just isn’t working like it should.
Time for some thinking and problem-solving — you know, through things like coaching and game planning. It would be a novel approach for a coaching staff and team in serious need of making some corrections…