Thanks to the reporting of Yahoo! Sports’ Marc J. Spears, we know before the NBA even announces it that Tyson Chandler is going to be named Defensive Player of the Year at a press conference this afternoon. This will be a very popular choice.
As Skeets mentioned on our awards show, Tyson has been great for the Knicks. New York is fifth in defensive efficiency this season, allowing only 101 points per 100 possessions, just a year after finishing 22nd and giving up 111 points per 1oo. That’s an amazing upgrade, and when you consider they’re allowing an at-rim shooting percentage that’s two percentage points fewer than last season’s, you realize what an upgrade Tyson Chandler has been. Not to mention, they’re grabbing a bunch more defensive rebounds (73.7 percent this year, 71.9 last year), allowing a lower eFG (.485 vs. .511) and are forcing a bunch more turnovers (15.9 percent to 13.8). It’s been a wholesale remake of the Knicks’ defense and Tyson Chandler is the biggest — though not only, shoutout to Mike Woodson and Iman Shumpert — reason why.
However, according to Basketball Value, Chandler didn’t have nearly the defensive impact on his team that Dwight Howard did. When Dwight was off the court, the Magic allowed seven more points per 100 possessions. When Tyson was off the court, the Knicks actually allowed less points per 100 possessions (102 with Tyson, 100.5 without). 82games tells a similar story, that Tyson’s impact defensively wasn’t nearly as significant as Dwight’s. Plus, Dwight grabbed a higher percentage of defensive rebounds, blocked a higher percentage of shots, stole a higher percentage of balls and bested Tyson in basically every defensive category available, even down to defensive win shares, despite the fact Dwight played eight fewer games.
Numbers obviously don’t tell the whole story — and from watching Chandler gobble up screen-and-rolls on the perimeter, you know Tyson is a more than deserving of this trophy — but Chandler’s case feels like it was helped along by a combination of voter fatigue, suspicions that Dwight mailed in the season and a response to the worst PR campaign since the BP oil spill. After three straight DPOYs, any reason to not give Dwight Howard the award would have been appreciated. Instead, he gave people like a billion of ‘em. Tyson Chandler is an excellent choice for Defensive Player of the Year, but sometimes remaking a team can be more important than actually being the best in the league. Just ask Steve Nash.
Enough about Dwight Howard though. Tyson Chandler is Defensive Player of the Year, which is really great. I’m not sure how much credit should go to the amazing beard he’s kept for the entire season, but the answer should be “a lot of it.” Would you want that thing hedging on you while running a pick-and-roll? No, you wouldn’t. That’s why Tyson Chandler is taking home this much deserved award. Congrats.