Wilson Chandler, in his ninth season in the league, had one of the most productive years of his career and was a catalyst for Denver on both ends of the court. Denver was largely devoid of defense all season but Chandler was one of the lone bright spots on that end of the floor and his defense single-handedly allowed Denver to secure multiple victories during their hunt for the playoffs.
Chandler had career-highs in points per game, 15.7, rebounds per game, 6.5, free three attempts per game, 2.7, while shooting 46.1 percent from the field, 33.7 percent from three-point distance, and 72.7 percent from the charity stripe.
What grade would you give Chandler’s season?
Harrison Wind (@NBAWind): A-
Joel Rush (@NuggetsDenJoel): A+
Kalen Deremo (@PrincePickaxe): A
T.J. McBride (BSN_McBride): B+
Harrison: After missing all of the 2015-16 due to injury, it was hard to imagine Chandler returning to his prior form immediately. Not only did Chandler get back to the player he was before the injury, but he put together the best season of his career. 71 games, plus career highs in scoring and rebounding showed Chandler’s worth on paper and he was an instrumental piece to Denver’s success last year.
Joel: Chandler’s apparent complaints about not having a clearly defined role were entirely justifiable. The number of games he played as a starter versus off the bench were nearly evenly split, 33 to 38, but despite the confusion about how to use him and his seeming dissatisfaction with it, he not only played his heart out but put together arguably his best season ever, tallying the most points and rebounds per game of his career, and the second highest PER and TS%.
Kalen: Chandler had his best year as a Nugget and I don’t think it was even close. Aside from his numbers, he was so much more aggressive on offense and really put the team on his back on numerous occasions in the first few months when the Nuggets were struggling.
T.J.: Chandler was the ultra-versatile wing that allowed Denver so much flexibility and he should be applauded for that. He was able to cover up for injuries at every position outside of point guard even playing center and shooting guard when needed. He was one of the few able-defenders on the roster and had arguably his best season coming off season-ending hip surgery. With that being said he did bring unnecessary drama to the locker room. For that, he gets docked but it was still a solid season from Chandler.
What aspect of Chandler’s game did he improve on most this season?
Harrison: Chandler improved ever facet of his game last year. He was more aggressive, took it upon himself to shoulder a lot of the scoring on Denver’s bench unit and was one of the few Nuggets who brought it defensively on most nights.
Joel: Completeness and “glue guy-ness.” It’s hard to identify one specifically improved skill area, especially after he missed the entirety of the previous season. But his game as a complete, two-way player came together better than it ever had before, and the overall elevation of his performance was impressive. And while the aforementioned lack of a clear role was clearly frustrating for Wilson, his versatility was a major boon for Malone, who could count on him to mesh with any and all of the approximately 500 lineups he experimented with.
Kalen: Chandler’s mentality totally shifted prior to the season. He went from passive to aggressive and from a utility man to a scorer. Fans have been begging him to be more aggressive for years so it was certainly a welcomed sight to see him take on a more featured role.
T.J.: Scoring more efficiently. Chandler had his second best true shooting percentage of his career of 54.5 percent while playing more than twice as many minutes then the 2013-13 season when he shot his career-best 55.6 percent. Even with the increased workload, he was able to score the second most point per game of his career with 15.7. Chandler’s offensive game took a big jump this past season and it was a big reason Denver’s offense was able to lead the league in offensive rating since Jokic was re-inserted into the starting lineup.
What does Chandler need to work on this upcoming offseason?
Harrison: Chandler doesn’t have to do anything individually. He is who he is and Chandler’s valuable to Denver in his current form. He does need to sit down with the Nuggets’ coaching staff, hammer our the differences between them and determine what role he’ll have for next season.
Joel: Chandler has already been doing the work, so I’d put this one more on Connelly and Malone. If Wilson isn’t traded this summer, the Nuggets front office will need to do a better job of consolidating the talent on the roster with a clearer pecking order, and the coaching staff will need to do a better job of clarifying Chandler’s role, which is probably what he most needs to continue building on his resurgent 2016-17 season.
Kalen: Given his frustration with the Nuggets I’d bet Chandler will be on a different team when training camp arrives but if not I’d say the only thing he needs to focus on is consistency and not letting his newfound sense of offensive vigor dissipate in the summer months.
T.J.: While Chandler could very easily be in a different uniform next season I have to echo Joel and Harrison. Chandler needs to get with the front office and coaching staff of the team and define his role going into next season if he is going to stick with the Nuggets. If Chandler can come back next season knowing exactly what his role is and it allows him to play without distractions it could go a long way to improving the Nuggets as a whole.