With the recent tidal wave of speculation surrounding a potential trade whereby the Knicks would send Larry Hughes and Wilson Chandler to the Wizards for the 5th pick in Thursday’s draft and some expiring contracts, it’s definitely important that the Knicks’ braintrust carefully consider the merits of Chandler, since he’s the lone, long-term asset that DW would be sacrificing in the deal. To that end, loyal reader and frequent contributor Italian Stallion posted an awesome (and very comprehensive) evaluation of Chandler’s present day value and his potential going forward that we think is worthy of a separate entry. Without further ado:
Wilson Chandler’s name has been coming up in trade talks with Wizards as part of various deals that include moving up to the #5. Given that Chandler is generally viewed as a key part of our core group, I think it’s important to get clearer view on how good he is now and what his potential is.
There are two schools of thought on Chandler.
1. He’s a very inefficient scorer that is not special at anything else either. The evidence for this is actually extremely strong. Stats guys will point out that his TS%, eFG% and FG% are all quite a bit below average relative to other starting SFs. Basically, in English, he’s not a very good 3 point shooter but shoots a lot if them (a terrible idea). He also rarely uses his athletic ability to get to the free throw line. That’s an extremely significant attribute to be missing. If you draw a lot of fouls you can get 3 points on some easy shots or 2 free throws if you miss (getting 2 free throws is better than most shots because the probability of hitting them is higher than for the average shot – at least for a good free throw shooter). So lacking this is a major downside in his game. All his other stats are about average at best (rebounds, blocks, steals, assists etc…) for a SF.
PER: 12.9 (below the average of 15 for all NBA players, let alone starters)
TS%: .515 (below the average of mid 50s)
3P%: .328 Below th average of about 36% or 37% for starters)
2. All the above is true, but some of his flaws will be very easy to correct because they are mental. He also has the athleticism and work ethic to correct much of the remainder. Last year was basically his rookie year and he finished the year playing at a higher level than he did when he started (rebounding and various shooting stats were higher).
I more or less subscribe the second view.
I think you have to build age, experience, athleticism, work ethic etc.. into any evaluation of a young talent. Some people may overdo it (including some GMs on Thursday night LMAO), but to look at stats alone and/or a player in his current snapshot in time is basically leaving out a major part of the probabilities. That’s a ridiculous way of thinking about things – especially if you are stats and numbers oriented to begin with.
To me Chandler is a MORTAL LOCK to improve if he stays healthy.
It’s going to be easy to teach him how to avoid some of those bad 3 pointers he takes from time to time. It’s also going to be easy to teach him that many of the 2 pointers he takes just inside the arc are especially dumb because they are very difficult low percentage shots, but you only get 2 points for making them (a very dumb idea). So to me, he can improve his scoring efficiency enough to get to a more average level just by tweaking his shot selection.
Second, he HAS the athleticism to get to the hoop and draw fouls. He has demonstrated that ability on many nights. The key is going to be getting him to maintain that level of aggressiveness on a more consistent basis. That will be up to D’Antoni and whether or not he has the proper mental makeup. It’s not a mortal lock, but I think we can expect more.
Third, he was a better shooter last year than the year before and he was better at the end of the season than he was for much of the rest of the season. I think we can expect a little more improvement this year.
Fourth, he clearly has a strong work ethic. The coaches all say so. The players all say so. He has been twittering and saying himself that the recent surgery is going to stop him from working as hard on his game this off season as he wanted to.
Fifth, he’s an above average defender.
Sixth, he’s extremely versatile and can play anywhere from the 2 to the 4 depending on the matchups.
OK, now that I’ve given what I feel is an unbiased look at the pluses, minuses, question marks etc…. it is necessary to determine where he is now and to guess what his potential is.
To me, right now he is clearly a below average starting SF. There’s almost no doubt about that. The stats scream it and he plays in a system that tends to help statistically.
However, given his age, lack of experience, athletic gifts, and the ease with which some of his flaws can be corrected, I think it’s almost certain he can become an above average SG/SF with borderline All-Star possibilities.
So after the first 4 selections of the draft and we get to see who is left at #5, we have to ask whether any of the players available at that point can be as good/better and have the same probability of doing so. The other miscellaneous details (expiring contracts etc…) seem less significant than usual because none of the players mentioned are ever going to be part of the core and I am already sure that Walsh will handle that part correctly.