Update: It's official!
I've said it before, but it's worth repeating, that there is almost no way of truly appreciating Tyson Chandler's presence on the Knicks. Celebrating his well-deserved award is a good way, but it still feels hard to express my gratitude for what Chandler has done with the Knicks.
Last season the Knicks were 21st in defensive efficiency, 28th in opponents points per game, and 25th in opponents field goal percentage per game. This year, those numbers have jumped 5th, 11th, and 10th, respectively. Mike Woodson deserves credit, as does a player like Iman Shumpert who sets the bar high for individual effort, and players like J.R. Smith, Landry Fields, Jared Jeffries, and (at times) Carmelo Anthony have all shown a willingness to defend hard, but Chandler has spearheaded the movement.
His 10 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game are nice, but his value goes so much further beyond statistics, you can only really appreciate it by watching him play. Chandler is constantly barking out orders and instructions on the defensive end, warning every player of a screen or pick, telling them when to get over it, when to switch, when to double a player, where to rotate, where to close out. On picks, Chandler hedges hard, stops the penetration, and gallops across the court to get back to his own man, seemingly creating a one-man prison on the defensive end. A fair number of times Chandler has been forced to switch onto smaller, faster guards, and he has denied their penetration and stuck to them, not allowing a mismatch to ever be exploited.
I had not expected Chandler's impact to be this great on defense, but it's been nothing short of phenomenal. Both in the tone that he sets and his actual execution. I love you, Tyson Chandler, and I'm happy you're the first ever Knick to win Defensive Player of the Year!