With the MVP out of the way, here are the rest of The Point Forward’s official end-of-season awards. A note: Figuring in injuries is always tricky, especially in such a compressed season, but we disqualified players who missed about half of their team’s games — a decision that affected Ricky Rubio, Jeremy Lin, Manu Ginobili and a couple of others.
Defensive Player of the Year
1. Tyson Chandler, New York Knicks
I’ll admit a bias for big men over wing players in deciding this award. Big men are more impactful on defense in the larger picture, protecting the rim, defending the post and blowing up pick-and-rolls. You can build a competent NBA defense around a single elite big man, and if you have two good ones who communicate well together, you’re on your way to a top-five defense.
That’s not to discount wing guys such as Andre Iguodala, Tony Allen, LeBron James, Luol Deng, Paul Pierce, Shawn Marion and others — especially when they are versatile enough to defend point guards, as Marion has done nearly tip-to-buzzer in several games this season. In particular head-to-head matchups, they can be a decisive factor and/or the thing that keeps an otherwise overmatched team afloat.
But over a full season, they can’t quite match the impact of a dominant big, and none have been more dominant this season than Chandler, who almost single-handedly transformed the Knicks from a defensive laughingstock into one of the league’s very best on that end. New York has jumped from 23rd in points allowed per possession last season to fifth this season, despite playing one mostly unmotivated defender (Carmelo Anthony) and another “star” who might be the single worst defender among all NBA starters (Amar’e Stoudemire).
The Knicks’ defense has been only marginally better with Chandler on the floor, allowing 98 points per 100 possessions compared to 99.3 when he sits, but that masks his value. Both Mike D’Antoni and Mike Woodson have been absolutely terrified to play the Anthony/Stoudemire combination without Chandler around to fill the leaks; no lineup with Melo and Stoudemire but no Chandler has logged more than 15 minutes per game this season, per NBA.com, and such lineups have been disastrous in their limited floor time.
In other words, we have no evidence this Knicks team could really exist as a playoff team without Chandler defending the post, avoiding fouls, switching onto guards when required and racing around the back line to help and challenge shots. A monumental, tireless effort — and one that has included very few mistakes on a night-to-night basis. Read More…