The NBA Realist: Tyson Chandler
In all honesty, this should have been Dwight Howard’s award for the 4th consecutive year given that he is still the best Defensive Player in the NBA. I know that when I went on the Blitz Sports Network Podcast, I expressed my intent to for Howard. However, after careful consideration, the fact that Howard missed 12 games, quit on his team, undermined his coach, mind-fucked his management, oftentimes checked out, and failed to consistently perform like the best defensive Player, cannot be overlooked, and forced me to rethink my vote.
As a result, Howard opens the door to Winston Wolf…..errr Tyson Chandler, who not only changed the culture of a Mike D’Antoni coached team, but simultaneously embraced the unenviable task of cleaning up the mistakes of his defensively challenged teammates like Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudamire, while enabling the defensive development of Iman Schumpert and Landry Fields. In the end, the Knicks finished as the 5th best Defensive team in the NBA, and the bulk of their success is attributed to Chandler.
However, Chandler’s greatest accomplishment will nether be winning a Championship Ring, nor the eventual 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award. Instead, it is his remarkable detachment from former “Baby Bulls” teammate Eddy Curry who at one time served as 50% of the “front-court of the future”, which in actuality turned out to be the basketball equivalent of “See No Evil/Hear No Evil”.
Honorable Mention: Tony Allen
Sean Cribben: Tyson Chandler
Boning over a Celtic for a Knick isn’t easy for me, but Chandler’s transformative effect this season is on par with that KG had on the Celtics with his arrival in Beantown in 2008. Indeed, with Chandler patrolling the paint the Knicks have improved so markedly on that end of the floor that comparing this year’s outfit with last’s is an altogether ridiculous exercise; while in 2011 they dwelt in the league’s basement (28th in ppg, the 22nd-ranked Defensive Rating, and the 5th-worst defensive field-goal percentage), this season they’ve evolved into a formidable defensive team.
Bruce Blitz (Blitz Sports Network): Tyson Chandler
This is probably the hardest award for me to give a final answer for. I mean there are a few guys who really deserve a piece of this award. Say what you want about Dwight Howard, but Dwight Howard has played phenomenal defense again this season. Dwight Howard’s ability to alter shots at the basket, create hesitation in slashers, block shots, post defense, and ability to end defensive plays with his rebounding are phenomenal. Dwight Howard is still one of the NBA’s best defenders and let’s not act like Dwight Howard fell off the map this past season defensively, merely because a lot of us are turned off by his off-the-court behavior.
Serge Ibaka has certainly made a strong case for his consideration as well in a very similar manner to Dwight Howard. Kevin Garnett has also had a fantastic season defensively as well. LeBron James also is deserving of this award.
I mean with LeBron we are talking about the hands-down best perimeter defender in the NBA. LeBron James defends the 1-5 positions, and frequently this season he defended the 1-5 in many singular games. LeBron James is a great reactionary defender, which is a lost art in the NBA. A ton of NBA defenders bring anticipatory defense to the court and get caught cheating into pass lanes way too much. LeBron James’ has the reaction time of a cat, and his help defense is amongst the best in the NBA. There would be no complaints here if LeBron James won the Defensive Player of the Year in 2012. I actually had been leaning towards LeBron James for this award, but I’ve been swayed in the past month to go with Tyson Chandler.
The argument can be made that Tyson Chandler has the greatest impact defensively in the NBA. Tyson Chandler steps on the court and automatically brings a style of defensive intensity that picks up the intensity of everyone around him. The New York Knicks went from being one of the worst defenses in the NBA last year, to being a top 5 defense in the NBA this season. Tyson Chandler certainly has the biggest hand in this turnaround. Tyson’s ability to show on screens, hedge off ball handlers, retreat to his original assignment while they roll to the basket, his shot blocking, shot altering, and rebounding have changed the entire culture of the New York Knicks. The New York Knicks have blossomed into the threat that they are, in large part, because of Tyson Chandler’s defense. So I choose Tyson Chandler as the defensive player of the year.
E-Dog: Tyson Chandler
I know that Dwight Howard practically owns this award by now and has the better defensive stats, but Chandler transformed the Knicks into a team that could, and did, rely on its defense to whether a barrage of injuries and extended periods of offensive struggles. His impact on his team at the defensive end dwarfs that of anyone else this season, and that’s enough for me. Besides, Howard needs to pay some price (minor though it is) for what he put the Magic through this season, and what he will likely put them through this off-season (and next season, if the team allows it) as well.