Over the next few weeks, the Denver Stiffs staff will be previewing the 2016-17 Denver Nuggets. The team enters Michael Malone's second season with the Nuggets with a mix of new and familiar faces. With a roster mixed with young talent like Jamal Murray and more experienced veterans like Wilson Chandler, the Nuggets are looking to improve on their 33-49 record from last season.
Wilson Chandler is one of the bigger mysteries for the Denver Nuggets entering the 2016-2017 season. A metaphorical basketball swiss army knife, the small forward has a number of uses on the court but hip surgery kept him from playing a single game in the 2015-2016 season. Now finally healthy, Chandler looks to get back to being one of the best players on a Nuggets roster that sorely missed him. Chandler will be looked upon to lead the bench unit this season, and given that starter Danilo Gallinari has had health troubles of his own, Denver very well could wind up calling upon Chandler to fill a starting role at some point this season.
Chandler's game is as well rounded as any on the team. His athleticism, while not elite, gives him the ability to make plays driving to the basket as well as on the fast break and he is a powerful finisher at the rim. Since coming to Denver in the Carmelo Anthony trade, Chandler has also developed his range to make him a consistent threat from beyond the arc. Before succumbing to his hip injury, Ill Will was shooting above 38% from three in preseason last year and seemed to have just a slightly quicker step to the basket than usual making him a true weapon on offense. On the defensive side Chandler is strong enough to defend the four and long and quick enough to defend the two. Though he does not register statistically as a plus defender, he is very close to league average. The eye test will tell you he is a solid if not good defender who is especially effective in stopping the ball from getting into the lane.
Chandler does so many things really well, though he would not be considered elite in any one skill set. Still, his versatility is one of his greatest strengths. In today's NBA the buzz word seems to be positionless basketball, a philosophy that fits Wilson perfectly. His ability to defend multiple positions is one aspect of his fit in the new era, but also his ability as a ball handler and playmaker on offense as well as his shooting and cutting ability allow Chandler to operate both on and off ball. If you need him to take the ball one on one at the top of the key he can do it, if you want him to cut to the basket back door from the corner he can do it, want him to stay in the corner and nail the three, he'll do that too. Ball handler on the pick and roll? Yep, screener on the pick and roll? You probably are starting to see the theme here.
Chandler's major weakness has always been his health. He's only managed to top 70 games three times in his nine year career, and has been plagued by issues with his hips, knees, ankles, calves, hamstrings, back and more. While he's never had something like a catastrophic bone break or torn knee ligament, Chandler's unlucky nature of picking up nagging injuries has limited his effectiveness and the hip tears cost him major time. The good news is one would think that Wilson is due for some good luck and outside of the hip issue there doesn't appear to be any correlation between his injuries.
The one area of his actual game that could be critiqued would be ball distribution. For all the things Chandler does well on offense, he's not exactly the icon of setting up his teammates. This is in no way to say that he's selfish on offense, but for whatever reason he doesn't get the stats in the passing column. He averages less than two assists per game and its not related to minutes. While with the Nuggets Chandler's assist percentage is 9%, meaning he assists a teammate on roughly one in eleven possessions while he's on the floor. In comparison, Rudy Gay, a player who is (perhaps unfairly) generally associated with isolation offense has an assist% above 14% while playing for the Sacramento Kings.
Courtesy of HastagBasketball.com
Chandler signed a 4 year, $46.5 million contract extension prior to the beginning of last season. He will average $12 million per season over the final three years of his deal. For reference, Harrison Barnes, who last season recorded a Value Over Replacement Player that was four tenths of a point lower than Chandler's in 2014-2015 just signed a four year, $95 million contract with the Dallas Mavericks.
Via An Nguyen and Reddit.com
...welcome back Wilson.