New York Knicks: Should Tyson Chandler Be in the MVP Discussion?

Ciaran GowanContributor IIIApril 21, 2012

Over the last few weeks, Knicks center Tyson Chandler has established himself as the leading candidate for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year award, ahead of three-time winner Dwight Howard.

But considering the major impact Chandler has had on the New York Knicks this year, maybe Chandler should be in the discussion for an even more prestigious award: MVP.

Now, before you call me crazy, at least take the time to understand the thought process here.

There is no other player in the NBA who has completely changed an aspect of a team's performance more than Tyson Chandler has changed New York's defense this season. 

Due to the ineptness of the Knicks' offense, Chandler's defense has meant the difference between playoff basketball and meaningless games in April.

This is more than you can say for most other MVP candidates, as taking them away would not take their team out of the playoffs.

In fact, just look at last year's MVP, Derrick Rose, as the prime example of this. Rose's Bulls have been fine without him for the most part, and the team currently sits atop the Eastern Conference, with all signs pointing towards a championship run. This is not to say that Chandler is a better player than Rose, but for this season he has been more "valuable" to his team. 

Even the leading candidates — LeBron James and Kevin Durant — wouldn't have the same effect if removed from their respective teams. A lot of what James does offensively could be handled by Dwyane Wade for a single season, and the Heat's defense would remain in the top half of the league without him, even though James is their best defender.

As for Durant, most of his impact comes on the offensive side of the floor, but the Thunder have two pretty good scorers in Russell Westbrook and James Harden that could carry the load without him.

The thing that initially separates those other players from Chandler is their statistics. Their numbers just jump out at you, with both James and Durant's 25+ points and eight rebounds per game making Chandler's 11 and 10 look pathetic. But once you look past the basic numbers, Chandler's stats can be seen as more impressive than even theirs.

Chandler is making history this season, as his 68 percent field goal percentage would leave him extremely close to the highest all-time for a single season in the NBA or ABA.

Though touted as a defensive specialist, Chandler has scored over 20 points six times this season, and the Knicks have won five of those six games, with the lone loss coming by just two points against the Boston Celtics.

Even if you extend this to when Chandler has scored over 15 points, the Knicks have emerged victorious in a staggering 12 of 13 games.

Looks like his scoring is pretty darn valuable, as well as his defense.

Chandler also played a major role in the biggest story of the NBA season and probably in sports this year — Linsanity. Chandler's pick-and-roll with Lin was extremely effective, and without him Lin may not have exploded onto the NBA scene the way he did.

With Carmelo Anthony's injuries and Amar'e Stoudemire taking time off due to his brother's death, Chandler was the second option for much of that stretch, and had some of his best performances of the season — including a 25 point, 11 rebound performance against Washington — when his team needed him most.

Maybe it's time we start looking beyond solely the big names when it comes to selecting an MVP, because Tyson Chandler really has been one of the NBA's most valuable players in the 2011-12 season.

I'm not saying he should win the award outright, but he should certainly be in the discussion — in the top 10 candidates, and maybe even in the top five.