According to a report from the Associated Press, New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler will be named NBA Defensive Player of the Year when the award is announced on Wednesday.
Yahoo Sports first reported the news and it’s well-deserving, given the impact Chandler made on the porous Knicks defense throughout the regular season.
The Knicks went from tied for 27th in the NBA in opponent points per game last season to 11th in their first season with Chandler at center. They trimmed 11 points off the 105.7 they yielded during the 2010-11 season.
Chandler helped the Dallas Mavericks win their first NBA title last season, but the Mavericks made no attempt to re-sign him so they could retain salary flexibility for this summer. He quickly became the top big man on the market and the Knicks, long one of the league’s worst defensive clubs, emerged as a surprising suitor. They even waived point guard Chauncey Billups using the amnesty clause so they could fit Chandler under the salary cap.
He was worth it, particularly after the Knicks became a more defensive-minded team following coach Mike D’Antoni’s resignation in March. The Knicks went on to finish seventh in the Eastern Conference and trail Miami 2-0 in their first-round playoff series.
Chandler averaged 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots during the regular season and also had one of his best offensive seasons, averaging 11.3 points and shooting an NBA-high 67.9 percent from the field.
But the numbers don’t tell the whole story of Chandler’s impact on this Knicks team.
He’s the one gut that simply can’t be replaced. His presence alone helped change the culture in the Knicks locker room. They need a leader and as good as Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire are as individual players, the leader of the team very well could be Chandler.
He plays hard and the numbers back up the type of impact he had on this Knicks team. Chandler is a more than deserving winner.
Chandler becomes the first Knicks player to win the award and ends the three-year winning streak of Orlando’s Dwight Howard.