So Dwight Howard, astonishingly,13th overall in defensive efficiency, right in the middle of the pack.
Tyson Chandler played 62 games last year for the New York Knicks. The team finished 5th overall in defensive efficiency, trailing only Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Miami. All four teams sported plenty of elite defensive players; Chandler played primarily with defenders like Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields… I could go on.
In the 10 games the Magic played without Howard once his season ended on April 7, the Magic held teams under 100 points five times, including three times under 90 points.
In the four games the Knicks played without Chandler, opponents scored 112, 118 and 119 points in three of them. In the fourth, the Knicks held a 7-59 Bobcats team to 84 points.
Now clearly, Dwight Howard is an elite defensive player. He’ll be extremely effective on both offense and defense for the Los Angeles Lakers. And in a lineup without a ton of great defenders, Howard’s skills will be on greater display.
But if Chandler does what he did last season, which is to anchor a Knicks’ defense sufficiently to turn a roster of middling-or-worse defenders into a top-five unit, he will earn the DPOY honors again. And deservedly so.