Here’s what I wrote in Chandler’s report card last year:
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.
The good news is that Chandler did increase his scoring efficiency, going from a true shooting percentage of 51.5% to a more respectable 53.4%. The bad news is how he did it. There are a few ways to increase your TS%. Two main ones that would coincide with a sign of Chandler’s development are increasing the number of times converting from the charity stripe and an uptick in three point percentage. However Wilson did neither of these as he scored fewer singles and connected less often from downtown in 2010. His fta/36 fell from 2.8 to 2.5 and his ftm/fga dropped as well (from .16 to .15). Meanwhile his three point percentage was a shameful 26.7%.
So how did Chandler increase his efficiency? Simple, he changed what type of shots he attempted.
According to Hoopdata, Chandler dramatically reduced the number of treys in favor for a trip to the rack. By taking more shots in the paint instead of behind the line Chandler’s TS% jumped almost 2 percentage points. Basically when Chandler would receive the ball for an open three he’d head fake then drive towards the hoop instead. On the one hand it’s good that this correction was made and Chandler is a better shooter, but on the other it’s not the kind of improvement you want from a 22 year old. In other words you could say that Wilson Chandler didn’t get better in 2010, but rather the coaching staff made him better.
Chandler’s supporters will point out that he was recovering from injury and didn’t have the offseason to expand on his game. While his detractors will note that Chandler’s recent injuries could be a concern as well. In addition to his surgery last summer, the swingman sat for the last month of the season. Hopefully his moniker “Ill-Will” won’t start to represent his fragile state.
A year later, the question still remains how Chandler will develop. I’ll give him credit for being able to make the change in his game to forsake the three ball. However if Wilson Chandler wants to remain an NBA starter, especially playing for downtown happy Mike D’Antoni, he’ll need to do much more than that.
Report Card (5 point scale):
Final Grade: C
This list doesn’t bode well for Chandler’s development. The upside is Mike Miller, Richard Jefferson and Sean Elliot, but the downside is a lot of busts and replacement level players. If Chandler doesn’t show significant improvement, he might see himself playing for the Zhejiang Horses too.