Tyson Chandler became the first New York Knicks player to ever win the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. Chandler arrived this past offseason after helping the Dallas Mavericks win the championship last year and helped transform the Knicks from the 22nd ranked team in defensive proficiency to the fifth best. Last season the Knicks gave up 105.7 points per game. This season the Knicks improved to allowing just 94.7 points per game.
Chandler averaged 9.9 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game for the Knicks this season. There is no doubt his presence helped turn the Knicks defensive deficiencies into proficiencies as Chandler became the presence in the middle that the Knicks have lacked since Patrick Ewing was traded. Teams had to account for Chandler in the middle and couldn’t invade the paint against the 7-1, 240 pound behemoth.
Every night Chandler stepped on the court he was a threat to record a double-double while keeping opponents out of the paint. The Knicks, with Chandler, Landry Fields, and Iman Shumpert, at times resembled the New York Knicks teams of the 1990’s and early 2000’s rather than the laughing stock that they were in the mid-2000’s.
The second Chandler stepped foot on the court in a Knicks uniform the attitude of the Knicks defense changed. Chandler became an emotional leader on and off the court as the Knicks, led by then assistant and current Head Coach Mike Woodson, transformed themselves from an offensive-only minded team into a two-way team.
Chandler, 29, signed a four-year $58 million contract this past offseason and was acquired in a sign-and-trade with the Dallas Mavericks and Washington Wizards.