Zhaire Smith | Robert Williams | Keita Bates-Diop | Miles Bridges | Josh Okogie | Chandler Hutchison
Chandler Hutchison is a 6’7 forward with the physical tools to match up with other NBA caliber wings. After averaging 20.0 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists, the Boise State product won the Mountain West Player of the Year award for his excellent senior season. Hutchison is older than most NBA prospects, but he demonstrated a great NBA skill set during his final year. Whichever team drafts Hutchison will be getting a solid two-way player who can fill a role in an NBA caliber offense, which should be exciting for a team like Denver that already has star power.
Weight: 200 lbs
Wingspan: About 7’0”
Standing Reach: Unknown
Versatility. One of the best parts of Hutchison’s game on offense is his ability to fill several roles. At Boise State, he led the team in points, rebounds, assists, and steals, He had a number of games where he was the primary scorer, including a 44 point performance against San Diego State, but he also posted five or more assists in 10 of the 31 games he played, posted ten or more rebounds in 12 times, and posted two or more steals 13 times.
His offensive game revolves around his ability to make quick and efficient moves toward the rim, and his scoring presence and mentality open up passing lanes for others. This manifests itself in games with some outlier numbers in many categories. As his role is refined at the NBA level, this will help him remain productive, even as a 4th or 5th option offensively.
Defensively, Hutchison played more like a guard. He worked on shutting down his own man and wasn’t tasked with help defense very frequently. He did accumulate defensive rebounds frequently though, so it stands to reason that he may have more in the tank with regard to help side defense, especially if he’s not tasked with extreme responsibilities on offense.
Fluidity on Offense. Hutchison’s ability to glide all the way to the rim reminds me a bit of Jayson Tatum coming out of college last year and Paul George as he developed his NBA game.
His combination of touch with long, fluid strides make it easier for him to score on the move than other players. He displayed excellent agility moving toward the basket this year, projectable skills for a player that will mostly be a “create off-the-catch” kind of player.
These long strides will not only make things easy in transition for him, but also on plays in the half court where decision making is easy. Getting downhill out of the pick and roll, driving the lane after a spot-up opportunity, even a quick isolation. Hutchison’s physical tools combined with his instincts should help him stay effective in a variety of situations.
He can make precise passes on the move and precise passes from the post, a skill that’s extremely underrated by many in today’s switching era.
And how about this next pass? Unreal.
Hutchison will never be a primary ball handler, but as a player who simply understands where the next pass is, he will help complete the offense while he’s out there. He won’t be the entire offense like he was at Boise State, but he will certainly contribute.
Uncertain Jump Shot. The numbers speak for themselves. Hutchison is trending in the right direction, but as a career 35% three-point shooter and a 68% free throw shooter, the numbers don’t inspire a ton of confidence. The jump shot is something that can be ironed out, but there’s definitely no guarantees here. A weak jump shooter, regardless of their other offensive tools, can destabilize an offense. If Hutchison can’t shoot the rock consistently from the perimeter, he may be better as a playmaking power forward long term, which still lowers his ceiling.
Defensive Intensity. Hutchison had a combined 29 blocks during the four years and nearly 3,000 minutes he spent playing for Boise State. That’s horrible, and for an NBA prospect playing in the Mountain West Conference, it indicates that he may not have the defensive tools to succeed in the NBA. I disagree personally, but it’s a major concern for many.
Age and Upside. Having just turned 22 in April, Hutchison is one of the oldest players declaring for the draft this year. Combined with late development in a non-power conference, it’s fair to say that Hutchison likely isn’t the player Paul George is or Jayson Tatum may become. He is, after all, 22. While he displays some star tendencies in college, that may help him become a solid professional as opposed to a star. He won’t change a franchise though.
Fit with the Nuggets
The Nuggets have a massive need for a player of Hutchison’s profile, but only if that player can also defend. Improving defensively is extremely important for the Nuggets this season. They can probably find players to fill Hutchison’s potential role on the offensive end. What they really need is someone who can lock down on defense.
But frankly, I don’t think Hutchison’s defense in college is the degree of defense he will play in the NBA. As a late bloomer, he focused much of his energy helping keep Boise State afloat offensively. Rather than do the same in the NBA, Hutchison will be asked to defend, and in my opinion, he has more room to grow. He’s not going to be an elite rim protector or help side defender, but defending within a team concept and playing mistake free basketball is just as important, and I believe he has the instincts to turn that around.
If he can fill such a role offensively while stepping to the table on defense, he becomes immensely valuable. The finished product of Denver’s offense includes five players that can reasonably handle the basketball and understand how to flow around Nikola Jokic. In Hutchison, I see a player who has the tools to be a great dribble hand-off guy, as well as a player who takes advantage of mismatches. He can pass away from the defense, he can score at all three levels (if the jump shot comes along) and he knows how to work within a team concept.
The ultimate question though: is he a late bloomer because he just isn’t very good, or does he have more to offer because he’s a late bloomer? I tend to think the latter but understand if some people believe in the former.
There are other players that probably fit better, but not many. Some of the more defensive minded players are where they will likely select. In the end though, the Nuggets can fall back on Hutchison if he’s available. There simply aren’t many college players at 6’7 that can do the things he can do, scoring and passing wise. There are two other like sized players that I’m interested in: Kevin Knox and Keita Bates-Diop. All three could end up being very good for different reasons, and all three would fit in Denver.
But if the Nuggets want a big wing player they can trust in the short term while hoping the defense comes along in the long term, then Hutchison is the guy.