The only man to ever shoot over 70% from the field for an entire season is Wilt Chamberlain, who made 5.2-of-7.1 field goal attempts, good for 72.7%, with the Lakers during the 1972-73 season, the finale of a statistically ludicrous 14-year NBA career.
Don’t look now, but over a quarter of the way through the 2012-13 season, the Knicks’ Tyson Chandler is leading the NBA for the second straight year in field goal percentage. Even after tying his season-worst effort, a 3-for-7 performance in the Knicks disjointed 109-96 loss to the Houston Rockets, Chandler still happens to be shooting 114-of-161 – 70.8% – from the field.
Of course, Wilt and Tyson are vastly different players. Chamberlain was a dominant low-post threat that a team could operate its offense through, whereas Chandler is a pick-and-roll threat who cannot be ignored.
“The roll is important,” explained Chandler Parsons, the Rockets surging small forward. “We have to be in our weak side [help position], but when then they put guys like (J.R.) Smith and (Steve) Novak over there it’s tough to stop that. Tyson is one of the best rollers in the pick-and-roll with those lobs, so you just have to make sure the help-side is there and tag him early.”
If you’ve been paying attention to the Knicks, you know that Chandler has been lethal in the paint ever since he arrived in New York; last season he led the league in field goal percentage, shooting 67.9% on 3.9-of-5.7 attempts.
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But how and why has Chandler been so effective? I spoke with former Knicks Walt Clyde Frazier and John Wallace during pregame last night and their responses were right on the money.
Felton’s aggression in the pick-and-roll (Frazier): “He and Felton have a dynamic duo theme going on right now with the alley-oop, and if Felton misses Chandler has been there to dunk the ball, so they’ve got a very good chemistry going,” explained Frazier. “He’s not shooting anything besides a dunk or a layup. Mostly Felton with the pick-and-roll. Teams are in-between. If Felton misses, Chandler is there to dunk it and if they help too far [on Felton] then he’s there for the alley-oop, so they’ve been in a bit of a quagmire. Teams are trying to figure it out but they haven’t thus far.”
Surrounded by shooters (Wallace): “We’re putting teams in a nice quandary right now. Either you’re gonna leave our lethal shooters open on the 3-point line, covering Tyson the right way and giving up the 3-point shot. If you lean out to our shooters a little bit – which most teams are starting to do that – then Tyson is gonna be wide open for layups and dunks and 3-point plays, so it’s a matter of teams picking their poison.”