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New York Knicks: Will Tyson Chandler Repeat as Defensive Player of the Year?

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New York Knicks: Will Tyson Chandler Repeat as Defensive Player of the Year?
Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE

The 2011-12 season was one filled with highs and lows for the New York Knicks.

Fans will fondly remember "Linsanity" and the MVP-caliber play of Carmelo Anthony in April, but both were to be eventually eclipsed by the early-season chemistry struggles and the first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Miami Heat.

One consistent bright spot, though, was the play of Tyson Chandler, the center signed back in December to complete the Knicks' "big three."

Chandler came in and—with a little help from Mike Woodson and Iman Shumpert—completely changed things for the Knicks on the defensive end of the floor.

No longer were the Knicks a team to take lightly on defense; in fact, they were one of the elite defensive teams in the league.

Come season's end, the Knicks had gone from the 21st ranked team in terms of defensive efficiency in 2010-11, to fifth with Tyson Chandler on board, showing just how impactful his presence inside was.

Chandler himself was impressive statistically—he ranked in the top 15 for both defensive rating and defensive win shares.

Clearly, Chandler was more than worthy of his award last season, but the question now becomes whether or not he can repeat the job and win it again in 2012-13.

The odds are in Chandler's favour. Of the NBA's 16 different Defensive Player of the Year winners, eight have won the award twice, with most coming in consecutive seasons.

That said, there are players around today who will make it tough for Chandler, no matter what history says.

You don't have to look any further than the man who stole the NBA headlines this summer with his move to Tinseltown.

Dwight Howard, a three-time winner of the award, was right up there with Chandler last season, but lost out partly due to the hit his image took with the way he handled his final year in Orlando.

Now in LA, with as much fanfare around him as ever, Howard will once again have positive media focus on him, allowing people to remember just how good he is on that end of the floor.

Last year, Chandler had the hype behind him. He was a new addition to one of the NBA's marquee franchises and that had come straight off of winning his first NBA title. Now, it appears as though Superman has the hype on his side, and this could be a huge factor when it comes to the voting.

Speaking of hype, Serge Ibaka of the Thunder built up a lot for himself with his fierce shot-blocking last season.

Despite not being all that great as a man-to-man defender, Ibaka's ability to spike the basketball paid dividends, as he finished second in voting, way ahead of Howard.

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Chandler will have a lot of competition for the award, including these two NBA Finalists from last year.

If Ibaka can add more of the non-glamour aspects of defense to his game, Chandler could find himself struggling to catch up in terms of convincing the voters he should win it again.

Over in Miami, reigning MVP LeBron James has just filled a huge gap in his trophy cabinet with his NBA Finals ring, but one thing that's still missing is a Defensive Player of the Year award.

James has long been one of the league's upper-echelon defenders and, considering his ability to guard multiple positions, should be right in the thick of it next season.

The star got a huge monkey off his back with his victory in the Finals last year, and people are now starting to fully appreciate just how good he is, which may result in some increased respect for his defense.

At the end of the day, though, if the Knicks can remain a top five defense next season in terms of efficiency and sneak into the top five in terms of points allowed per game, Chandler will definitely be up there.

Considering that he's in a starting lineup that includes two notoriously bad defenders in Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, getting the defense into the top five is a real achievement.

The Knicks may have more defensive talent this season—and that could hurt Chandler's chances of winning—but he's still the heart and soul of this team defensively, and the key to shutting opponents down.

With such bigger storylines for other potential candidates, it will be hard for voters to make Chandler the winner twice in a row. You can't argue with success, though, and he and the Knicks are primed for plenty of it on defense in 2012-13.

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