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Three Unsung Heroes of the 2010s Era The Knicks Wall

The 2010s were not an auspicious era for the Knicks but that doesnt mean there werent players worth celebrating. 316-469. Thats the New York Knicks combined record from 2010-11 to 2019-20. A .402 winning percentage over the course of a decade. Looking back on the 2010s there was plenty that went awry from an orange and blue perspective. The Knicks did not get past the second round of the playoffs with an MVP-caliber Carmelo Anthony early on in the decade. Then once they traded Anthony back in 2017 they wrapped up the 2010s with a three-year stretch where they never won more than 29 games in a season.

Those statistics paint a dismal picture but the decade wasnt all doom and gloom. Lets reflect on the 2010s with a glass-half-full mentality and revisit three Knicks whose contributions go underappreciated. Wilson Chandler 2010-11 Not long ago the Knicks had a reputation for whiffing on first-round draft picks. During the first decade of the 2000s the team drafted a laundry list of underachieving players in the front end of drafts. Mike Sweetney 9th overall 2003 Channing Frye 8th overall 2005 and Jordan Hill 8th overall 2009 were some of New Yorks egregious misfires of the time. However sprinkled between these draft-day duds were a few high-quality picks made by Knicks brass namely forward Wilson Chandler whom the Knicks selected with the 23rd pick back in 2007.

An ankle impingement limited Chandler to just 35 games as a neophyte but he established himself as a starter-caliber player in his sophomore season. And Chandlers Knicks tenure peaked during the 2010-11 campaign his fourth and final year in New York. Across 55 contests Chandler posted career-highs in points 16.4 and blocks 1.4. He epitomized the term two-way player before it was common vernacular. Chandler was arguably the best defensive player on the 2010-11 Bockers not named Amare Stoudemire. His calling card on that end was his versatility. Chandler guarded twos threes and fours logging 120-plus minutes at all three positions per Cleaning the Glass and held his own while doing so.

Chandlers defensive chops were predicated on his physical gifts strength and athleticism rather than smarts which may explain why he was never truly an elite defender. But his switchability coupled with his shot-blocking 94th percentile in block percentage and rebounding production 61st percentile in defensive rebounding percentage made Chandler an uber-valuable defender nonetheless.

Chandler was equally as effective on the other side of the ball for a Knicks offense that finished second in the NBA in points per game at 106.5. Whether he started or came off the bench you knew what you were getting from him — isolation scoring plus three-point shooting. A sizable 34% of Chandlers made baskets with New York were self-created 65th percentile in creation ability and he hit 44% of his corner threes on the season per Cleaning the Glass.

Despite all that Chandler accomplished on the court for the Knicks hes arguably remembered more for being a trade casualty than a budding star. Specifically he was a key piece of the trade that sent Carmelo Anthony to New York in February 2011. Chandler headed to the Denver Nuggets along with Danilo Gallinari Raymond Felton Timofey Mozgov and picks.

So next time you recall the halcyon days of Anthony and Stoudemire and the squad take a second to acknowledge Chandlers accomplishments too. Because without all the promise that Chandler flashed over his first few years in the league who knows if an Anthony trade ever happens Yes there were rumblings that Anthony would have likely signed with the Knicks as a free agent later that summer regardless but nothing was guaranteed.

Kyle OQuinn 2017-18 Kyle OQuinns Knicks career spanned three years from 2015-2018. Considering forward center Kristaps Porzingis was New Yorks franchise cornerstone at that time OQuinn never got the chance to be more than a backup –he logged a mere 19 starts over three seasons. But OQuinn starred in his role as well as any Knicks role player in recent memory as evidenced by his criminally underrated 2017-18 campaign. What separated OQuinn from the majority of bigs was his motor especially on defense. OQuinn embraced doing the dirty work for the Knicks whether he was jostling for 50-50 balls thwarting post-up attempts with his superb lower body strength or running the length of the floor for blocks.

OQuinns hustle and tenacity on defense didnt just pass the eye test they also paid dividends on the stat sheet. OQuinn finished second on the 2017-18 team in blocks 1.3 and third in total rebounds 6.1. What makes these numbers all the more impressive is that OQuinn averaged the 12th-most minutes on the roster. The above video highlights OQuinns dogged defense on Andre Drummond then an All-Star caliber center during New Yorks 2017 home opener. This is relevant because the first few seconds of the clip nicely summarize OQuinns defensive identity. He absorbs multiple body blows from Drummond in the post and then reacts passionately to a late call.

If one word described OQuinn as a defender its intense. Not Kevin Garnett intense – OQuinn didnt slam his head into stanchions before every game – but he seldom gave up on a play. While OQuinn hung his hat on getting stops he also enjoyed a productive season scoring the ball as a floor spacer even if he was just an opportunistic scorer. OQuinns 7.1 points per game average marked a career-best. He would not have been able to produce at the level he did if it wasnt for his accurate mid-range jumper. OQuinns outside-shooting sweet spot was 12-17 feet away from the basket. He swished 49% of his total mid-range tries in 2017-18 on a high number of attempts 76th percentile in frequency.

He also developed a beautiful chemistry with Doug McDermott shining as a passer on McBuckets back-cuts throughout their tenure together. Unfortunately OQuinn was unable to stick around in the league long after his breakout year. His last NBA season was in 2019-20. OQuinn wasnt a star or even a starter with the Knicks but he played the best basketball of his career here – that fact alone means he deserves more admiration from Knicks fans.
Michael Beasley 2017-18

Two players from the same iteration of the Bockers are on this list though Beasley and OQuinn are the antitheses of one another. OQuinn was defensive-minded. However Beasley was best known for his work on the offensive side of the ball. Specifically Beasley functioned as a high-level microwave scorer in his cup of tea one season with New York. Earlier in his career folks criticized Beasley for being an inefficient bucket-getter. But in 2017-18 Beasley married great efficiency with his characteristically high usage rate. Having averaged 13.2 points per contest on 50.7% shooting Beasley ranked top four on the squad in both points and field goal percentage.

Beasleys 69 235-pound frame made him a matchup nightmare for the lions share of the league. He was too potent of a post scorer for defenses to put smaller guards on him and too good of a shooter and ball-handler to leave him on an island against a big. Beasley was superb at spotting and exploiting mismatches as a Knick which allowed him to put together some of the best individual performances of his career. Perhaps his defining performance as a Bocker came against the Boston Celtics – an excellent team who later made the 2018 conference finals on December 21st 2017. Beasley dropped 32 points in total for the evening tied for a season-high and killed the Celtics from all three areas of the floor.

Although not the ever-switching defensive juggernaut it is now Beasley forced Boston to throw several different defenders onto him throughout the game such as Al Horford Semi Ojeleye and Marcus Smart. Beasley torched them one by one as he hit outside shots over the slower-footed Horford and bullied the smaller Ojeleye and Smart to the rim for point-blank looks. The briefness of Beasleys Knicks tenure may give outsiders the illusion that it is insignificant but that cant be further from the truth. His consistent scoring punch off the bench made a challenging season and the first one without Anthony much more palatable. Beasley OQuinn and Chandler were metaphorical bright spots in a decade of Knicks history with more lows than highs. Each player arguably reached the apex of their NBA careers in New York – even some NBA stars couldnt say the same.

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