Some people claim Tyson Chandler only won the Defensive Player of the Year award in his first season with the New York Knicks because Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard had back problems. That may be true but any way you look at it Chandler had a very good year. Beyond his individual defensive brilliance he also inspired and provoked a fundamental change in philosophy for the Knicks and got them thinking about stopping their opponents instead of simply attempting to out score them every game. Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade was so impressed he thinks Chandler deserves to be the starting center for the Olympic team.
Chandler was the second overall pick in the 2001 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Clippers. He was immediately traded by the Clippers to the Chicago Bulls where he was intended to team up with fellow neophyte big man Eddy Curry. However, the Bulls struggled. Since then, he's played for the New Orleans Hornets, Charlotte Bobcats, Dallas Mavericks and now the New York Knicks. He helped win the NBA championship in 2011 as the starting center for Dallas, the franchise's first title. He's was also on Team USA in 2010 when they won gold medals in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. He is also the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the NBA.
"Absolutely," Wade said. "We watched Tyson, the things that he does, his ability to cover so much on the basketball court, from the three-point line to the rim. He's phenomenal."
"And especially the style of play in the Olympics is a little different. The style is not necessarily post-up, post-up, post-up. It's more so of having a big guy down there, someone who can defend, someone who can rebound, someone who can catch and finish. So he brings that to the team."
Chandler is coming off a fine year where he averaged 11.1 points and 9.4 rebounds this past season the Knicks. Because Dwight Howard underwent back surgery recently and Chandler has previous Team USA experience it would make sense if he was named the starting center.
We'll find out if he gets the job when Team USA begins training in Las Vegas next month. Hopefully Chandler will be joined by teammate Carmelo Anthony as well. Anthony is also a finalist for the team.
On an offensive juggernaut like Team USA where the roster is filled with superstars someone like Chandler with a selfless style and defensive mentality could be priceless. One player with that kind of presence could be the difference from an early exit and a gold medal.
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