2009 Report Card: Wilson Chandler

Only one player in Knick history has averaged at least 33 minutes a game at the age of 21: Wilson Chandler. Albeit Chandler’s franchise record was more a result of necessity than talent. D’Antoni gave the youngster plenty of court time because of a scarcity of shooting guards/small forwards. Once the team traded Jamal Crawford, New York lacked a true shooting guard until they grabbed Larry Hughes late in the season. Considering that D’Antoni preferred Nate Robinson to come off the bench, the options were Chandler, Richardson, Jeffries, or Hughes. Chandler was obviously the right decision considering the team’s lack of defense and how much a developing Chandler could mean to the future of the franchise.

One question that remains is how Chandler will develop. On the optimistic side, he did make strides in multiple areas in 2009. Chandler improved his free throw shooting (63.0% to 79.5%), three point shooting (30.0% to 32.8%), scoring (13.4 to 15.6pts/36), assists (1.7 to 2.2 ast/36) and fouls (4.4 to 3.3 pf/36). But these numbers are pedestrian. The young swingman doesn’t do anything great, and his rebounding, blocks, and steals are about what you’d expect from an average 6-8 small forward. His scoring volume is above average (15.6 pts/36) but his efficiency is below (48.0% eFG, 51.5 TS%). Perhaps that’s Chandler’s lot in the NBA: to be the generic player.

For Chandler to make strides and become a genuine NBA starter, he’ll need to make another step in his development. One area could be his three point shooting. Connecting once on every three attempts is too low especially for someone that’s likely to see a lot of attempts in D’Antoni’s system. But a more critical leap would be for Chandler to get to the line more often. Last year he was second to last on the team in FTM/FGA, a measure of a player’s ability to draw contact on the offensive end. Frequently when he gets the ball in the paint, he ends up with a turn around jumper, instead of making a strong move to the hoop. Chandler needs to summon “Ill-Will” when he’s within 6 of the basket.

In order to get a glimpse of how his career might pan out, I queried a list of players comparable to Chandler at the age of 21, and this is the best I came up with. While names like Drexler, Mashburn, and Stackhouse appear, so do Gary Trent, Lamond Murray, and Rex Chapman. Using my similarity scores, I came up with a second list. Again there are a few players with above average careers: Richard Jefferson, Rasheed Wallace, Dirk Nowitzki, and Charlie Villanueva. But two very similar to Chandler show a cautionary tale. Shawne Williams is clinging to a roster spot in Dallas, and Chucky Brown never had a seasonal PER above 14. One thing to note about the below list of similar players is that Chandler’s TS% is almost the lowest of the bunch (except for DerMarr Johnson and Jeff Green).

.000 Wilson Chandler 2009 NYK 12.9 .515 .480 15.6 1.2 5.9 2.2 0.9 1.0 1.8
.037 Shawne Williams 2008 IND 12.8 .522 .485 16.3 2.0 6.6 2.2 1.0 1.0 2.2
.059 Richard Jefferson 2002 NJN 13.4 .524 .468 13.9 1.6 5.5 2.6 1.2 0.9 2.0
.076 Chucky Brown 1990 CLE 11.9 .525 .470 14.7 2.2 6.2 1.3 0.9 0.7 1.9
.080 Marvin Williams 2008 ATL 14.5 .540 .462 15.4 1.5 6.0 1.8 1.1 0.4 1.7
.082 Rasheed Wallace 1996 WSB 11.8 .530 .511 13.2 1.9 6.1 1.7 0.8 1.1 2.1
.093 DerMarr Johnson 2002 ATL 11.3 .513 .479 12.5 1.2 5.1 1.7 1.3 1.2 2.1
.097 Al Harrington 2002 IND 14.3 .526 .476 15.8 2.6 7.6 1.5 1.1 0.6 2.1
.104 Dirk Nowitzki 2000 DAL 17.5 .564 .513 17.6 1.2 6.5 2.5 0.8 0.8 1.7
.105 Charlie Villanueva 2006 TOR 16.4 .521 .500 16.1 2.8 7.9 1.3 0.9 1.0 1.5
.108 Jeff Green 2008 SEA 9.9 .492 .443 13.4 1.6 6.1 1.9 0.7 0.8 2.5

I’m inclined to give Chandler a good grade this year because he was a 21 year old who played out of position & made improvements over his first year. However the bar is now set higher on the expected returns for 2010. I won’t be as charitable in his next report card if he doesn’t show more signs of development.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 2
Defense: 4
Teamwork: 3
Rootability: 4
Performance/Expectations: 4

Grade: B+

NOTE: I found a flaw in the similarity scores, and corrected it.

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Mike Kurylo

Mike Kurylo is the founder and editor of KnickerBlogger.net. His book on the 2012 Knicks, "We’ll Always Have Linsanity," is on sale now. Follow him on twitter (@KnickerBlogger).

26 thoughts to “2009 Report Card: Wilson Chandler”

  1. Of the young guys the Knicks have drafted, Chandler’s probably the one I would feel least bad about trading (the jury’s still out on Danilo). He’s a nice player, but I think he’s relatively easy to replace.

  2. What i want to know is…who the heck are we inviting to summer league? We should have placed calls to Jeff Adrien, Devendorf and Paul Harris.

  3. Those similarity scores are actually very encouraging, a lot more so than I would have thought. Definitely has to make some big improvements, though.

    Is the 2nd rounder the Knicks gave up for Douglas the one they got for Balkman?

  4. What’s the basis for such a good defensive rating? Unless I’m reading the 82games stats wrong (a real possibility), it looks like Chandler performed rather poorly defensively last year.

  5. Poor TS%. Big improvement from his rookie season, though. The ORB% needs to improve big-time. Given his sample size this season, I’d say it’s more accurate than his substantially better first year.

    Too early to trade him away. He has yet to realize his potential.

  6. Mike,

    surprised (given the rating) that you didn’t say more about his defense. Right now that’s where Chandler delivers the lion’s share of his value, particularly through his versatility.

    I think a necessary condition for Ill Will to improve his shooting is to improve his ballhandling. He’s not awful, but his game is primarily two dribbles and pull-up or turnaround. He’s gotta work on putting the ball on the floor.

  7. You’re on to something with this, KB. I am intrigued with the concept of the similarity scores. That being said, something seems off with them, particularly in this second sample (as opposed to the Duhon one.) The spread of comparison talent is just too wide, e.g Dirk to DerMarr, for me to to draw any meaningful conclusions. On first glance, I think the problem is with either the use of one year’s stats (too narrow of a snapshot) or the fact that WC was in his second year as a 21yo while others were either rookies (Sheed) or in their 3rd year (Chuckie) and had different levels of PT or college coaching at that point. Not that WC is in the league with these 2, but Grant Hill never played NBA ball until age 22, and T-Mac was in his 4th year by then and improved dramatically each year from his rookie season. I also think that the huge PER differentials here illustrates PER’s limitations as a predictive tool. For younger players, an interesting metric might be to compare the same per minute stats (or per 36) at certain PT thresholds, say every 1000 minutes, were reached. This would factor in the degree to which improvement with experience was taking place. Some adjustments might have to be made for age upon entering NBA and prior level of play (collegiate, europe, etc.).

    What makes me optimistic about WC are 1) his attitude…he is the anti-Nate except for the tatoos 2) his fundamentals, which seem sound and suggest that consistency will come with practice, and 3) his versatility and athleticism, which allow him to get minutes at multiple positions so that he doesn’t have to sit behind a starter at one position. I do agree that this coming year is important for him, but not pivotal because he is still very young. My hope is that he will become a larger version of Jefferson. It probably helped Jefferson to be on a 49-win team with Jason Kidd running the team. (Hmmm…maybe we should sign Kidd…)

  8. David Lee’s stock just went up – Boozer is staying in Utah. Can’t blame Boozer for not wanting to gamble with $12.7M on the table in a bad economy, but my guess is that Lee’s suitors will be more willing to pony up for his services now that Boozer’s off the market.

  9. “his attitude…he is the anti-Nate except for the tatoos”

    Nate Robinson’s probably one of the hardest working, most gregarious players in the league.

  10. Sure is nice to see the Knicks with only the 7th highest payroll in the league!


    After July 9th it could be back up to the top, of course, but I didn’t think I’d live to see the day that the Spurs, Jazz, Wizards, and Hornets would all have higher payrolls than a James Dolan team.

    Question: How can teams negotiate this week, without knowing what the salary cap is set at? Teams like Sacramento, Minnesota, Portland, and Toronto have cap space to go after Lee, but as of now they can’t know if they have enough to sign him to an offer that would make Walsh balk. The cap isn’t set until July 8th. How can Portland theoretically sign Lee to a $9 million/year offer sheet if it puts them $1 million over?

  11. I think “Ill Will” has the strength and athleticism to be a top-notch slasher but he HAS to work on his ballhandling. He simply doesn’t have any smoothness to his ballhandling yet and isn’t so good at creating his own shot. His dribble moves are a bit ugly sometimes. And he’s gotta be more aggressive at getting to the rim rather than shooting fadeaways from like 8 feet out. I like his versatility on D. I think his defense would look a lot better if we saw him on small forwards all the time instead of having to take a lot of shooting guards do to the lack of depth at that position.

  12. “David Lee’s stock just went up – Boozer is staying in Utah.”

    Interesting. But Lee’s competition is Villanueva and Millsap.


    There may not be enough Free Agent money to go around, so one could be the odd-man-out.

    Of the three Lee is the most efficient scorer and best rebounder, but not by a lot over Millsap. But Villanueva has a 3 point shot and scores more, which probably makes him attractive to GMs.

    It will be interesting to see how it plays out.


    Funny that Jamal Crawford is saying he “won’t opt out”… Is that a promise or a threat?!

    And why is Okur still saying he’ll opt out? He should follow Boozer’s agent’s advice (a guy who obviously knows how to get the most money possible for his client).

  13. Amendment to above post:

    I just realized Millsap and Villanueva are both unrestricted. That makes them more attractive than Lee. Perhaps Dave will take the QO and play next year for us as a result (he’ll certainly make more money as an unrestricted FA in 2010 if he has another year like this one. There will be a lot more money in the pool to tap).

    Big question: Why didn’t the Bucks offer Villanueva a Qualifying offer. It would have cost them only $3 million if he’d taken it. Are they THAT bad off financially? If so, why didn’t we trade Mobley for Ridnour and the #10 pick?!

  14. Z-man makes a good point. It would be interesting to see the similarity score of players based on their years in the league (as opposed by age) affects the results. I would guess age is a better indicator, though nowadays with players being drafted on “upside” so often, especially with the high school senior and college freshman being drafted.

  15. “Nate Robinson’s probably one of the hardest working, most gregarious players in the league.”

    I was referring to the excessive technicals, complaining to the ref, the posing and primal screams, etc. Chandler apparently works every bit as hard as on his game as Nate does, but never, ever draws any attention to himself (except with an occasional spectacular play), never complains about calls, never goads opposing players into fights or takes the bait when they do it to him. In that way they are polar opposites.

  16. Z-man,

    It doesn’t make sense to compare first years, because players will be of different age. Does it make sense to compare Jermaine O’Neal’s first season (age 18) to Marcin Gortat (age 23). That’s a five year difference, and even though they’re both just entering the league, obviously the latter is more physically mature and has had more training. I think it’s more important to compare players at the same age due to the physical difference. Young players tend to fill out muscularly, and older players tend to lose their speed, jumping, etc. When O’Neal is hitting his prime in his 10th season Gortat will be in serious decline (33 years old).

    As for the similarity being widespread, welcome to statistical analysis. Did you expect to see 10 guys with exactly the same exact career path? Especially for a young player like Chandler, it shows that it can be difficult to identify which players will succeed, and which will fail. One thing to get from this list is that Chandler clearly has a few different ways in which he can develop. Should he improve in some critical areas, he could have a very nice career. I think one thing to check is how did some of the successful players changed from this year to the next. Nowitzki’s TS% and pts/36 went through the roof the next season (60.1 and 20.6). For Chandler to have a similar career path, you would expect him to experience that change as well.

  17. Bummer if this is true:

    A source told Ken Berger that he believes David Lee’s days as a Knick are over. Agent Mark Bartelstein will reportedly have Lee sign an offer sheet with the Grizzlies or Thunder that the Knicks will not be willing to match.

    “It’s a tough loss for New York, but they don’t want to screw up their 2010 plan,” the source said.

    I will be pissed if we don’t even get anything in return in a S&T. Although, it was also claimed that the Grizz were going to offer Millsap 12 mil a year for 5 years. What is this offer that Lee is going to get? 11 mil a year? for 5 years? I love Lee, but he’s not worth that. I mean, we’re talking about Gortat getting 5.5 mil, and he’s a true 7 footer that can block shots. I’d be willing to go to 9 mil for Lee. Maybe the source is basing this on Donnie throwing out that 7 mil number the other day. Also, not sure what those teams have to give in a S&T except a good 1st round draft pick. Maybe Sefolosha, DJ White… Chuck Atkins. And the only player worth taking from the Grizz is Conley and they probably wouldn’t do that. This could be a real downer. But I have to believe the Knicks at least threaten to match. Even if they have to suck it up and sign Lee at 11 mil, they can still let Nate go for free. And he could sign the QO. And both of those are tradable during the season…

    Ess-dog’s gettin’ nervous…

  18. When it comes down to it, though, what is the difference between $7 or $9 or even $11 million, in terms of 2010 cap space. Either we get rid of Curry and/or Jeffries and the difference wouldn’t matter, or we don’t, and may as well invest in Lee. Lee @ $10+ million is better than nothing @ $0. Unless that 2-3 million is really going to keep us from getting who we want come 2010, but I don’t think it would.

    Walsh’s target price seems to be Lee at $7 mil and Nate at $5 mil.


    Lee @ $7 mil + Nate @ $5 mil > Lee at $10 mil and Nate at $0.

    I’d prefer the latter.

  19. Nice article but could use more ha-ha. Throw in some jokes here and there. Here are a few of my own think Rodney Dangerfield:

    Boy is my wife a bad cook. (crowd: how bad is she?) How bad? Last night she brought me a baked potato and apologized because she couldn’t get all the bones out of it.

    Yeah, but my wife is a real wonder in bed, a real wonder. In fact, every night I wonder if I’ll ever have sex again.

    Yeah she has her flaws, but what do you expect from a woman concieved in an Edsal?

    Or how about:

    Faithful Knickerblogger readers I have two bits of bad news for you. The first is that Caleb was not available to write todays article, the second is that Thomas B. was.

    Thank you. I’ll be here all week. Tip your waitress and try the veal!

  20. Offering players like Millsap $60M over five years is exactly why the Grizzlies are as bad as they are. There are myriad terrible contracts throughout the league; why should the Knicks continue in the Isiah tradition? The cap has been mismatched for ten years now and in 2010 (or perhaps 2011 [Dwight Howard, hello]) our beloved franchise will be in the first positive roster situation in over a decade.

    I love David Lee and I realize that he is, by far, the best player currently on the Knicks. Why should we squander the possibility of two max FAs on one productive role player who will not win a championship without a superstar? There is little doubt that a team must have a legitimate superstar to win a title. The 2004 Pistons are the only champions I can think of in the last 20 years without one. I’m ready to jump ship on Lee and let some other team overpay him.

  21. On a side note, I personally don’t like living in New York. I grew tired of the SoHo snobbery, the LES hipsters, and the NYU pretentiousness. Oh, and Yankee fans. Sealing the deal was a ride through Hunt’s Point toward GCT during which I saw a junkie tie off, shoot up, and then wag his unsheathed genitalia at me — all to the horror of the mothers and children aboard the train.

    That said, is there anyone on this board who would take $12M a year to live in Oklahoma City over $10M a year to live in Manhattan? How can that be a good move from an endorsement perspective?

  22. Death to hipsters and Yankees fans.

    Those similarity scores are somewhat encouraging. There’s still hope.

  23. Z-Man,

    I know what you were getting at, and there’s definitely something to what you’re saying. I just think it’s unfair to slam Nate’s attitude and praise Chandler as some sort of saint. Nate needs to mature on the court, but his attitude is a big part of the reason he walked on the Washington basketball team and went on to become the best 5’7.75″ NBA player in quite a while and probably the shortest guy to block Yao since 3rd grade. (Being some-sort of otherworldly athlete probably helped as well.)

    Unfortunately an area where WC is the polar opposite of Nate is assertiveness and aggression. I haven’t seen many 6-8, well-built, athletic players without much of a jumper shy away from contact the way Chandler does, at least not in the NBA. I’m not tempted to blame this on his ball-handling, since he’s perfectly capable of cutting to the basket off the ball. Plenty of bigs with no handle finish at the rim consistently. And then there are all the wings in the NBA who take the ball from the 3-pt line to the basket without so much as one dribble (2 steps my …). Chandler took 24% “close” shots last season and hit 53%, Nate (a foot shorter) took 28% “close” shots and hit 60%… So, while I agree Nate needs to tone it down (especially whining to the refs) and pick his spots, I get tired of people criticizing his attitude. The guy seems to want it in the worst way and plays balls to the wall, if the Knicks had a few more guys with that attitude they might actually sniff .500.

    One way in which WC is not the anti-Nate is favoring isolation, crap basketball. Both of them tend to dick around and throw up absurd shots instead of playing within the offense. I guess that’s what happens when Jamal Crawford is your team leader for several years…

  24. “One way in which WC is not the anti-Nate is favoring isolation, crap basketball. Both of them tend to dick around and throw up absurd shots instead of playing within the offense. I guess that’s what happens when Jamal Crawford is your team leader for several years…”

    And right there is the reason I wont be concerned if either of them gets traded. Although on defense WC does seem to um…. you know… um…. care.

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