On November 13th, 2007, a 20-year-old Wilson Chandler checked in for his minutes in the NBA. The Knicks had drafted him that summer with the 23rd overall selection. In his first game, Wilson put up 8 points and 2 rebounds on 57% shooting in just under 18 minutes, and thus - his NBA career began.
Since playing 35 games and averaging 19 minutes in his rookie season, he went on to play all 82 games and average 33 minutes in his sophomore year. Despite averaging a solid 15/5/2 over the next few years in New York, the Knicks were unable to make the playoffs.
Three years after his rookie year (2010), the Knicks orchestrated the blockbuster Melo trade, swapping a total of twelve players amongst three teams. Wilson was one of the assets on his way to Denver, in exchange for Anthony; the Knicks coveted prize.
It’s been seven years since that trade. The Nuggets made the playoffs in 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13 - but were knocked out in the first round each time. They haven’t been back since. Wilson’s numbers took a slight dive, with a decent drop in his field goal percentage; 48% in ‘09/’10 vs. 42% in ‘13/’14.
His minutes have also taken a small hit, and as of this year - early February to be exact - his starting role was revoked. Chandler openly expressed his frustration with his role on the team to Sam Amick, from USA Today. He also openly conducted an interview with the Denver Posts’ Chris Dempsey;
Obviously, Chandler hasn’t publicly asked for or demanded a trade, but he’s clearly not happy in his current situation. To be fair, I can understand why he’d want a trade. Wilson is 29 years old, and he’s yet to leave the first round of the playoffs. He’s in the prime of his career, and he’s a revolving piece around their young core - more or less an afterthought.
Going forward, the Nuggets are putting their trust into their young guys, as they should. Guys like Gallinari, Faried, and Chandler, seem to be a part of a previous plan ( the aftermath of the Melo trade + Faried).
There’s a lot of speculation as to where Wilson could go, and I’ve heard a fair share of teams tossed around as potential suitors.
One team that I haven’t heard yet - the Toronto Raptors.
Wilson's Helping Hand
The Raptors have a tough road ahead, and the Eastern Conference is looking a lot different as opposed to a few months ago; Boston is securely in second, the Wizards have emerged as a “second-tier” Eastern Conference team (second-tier = good Eastern team that’s not the Cavs), the Hawks are safely a 4th/5th seed, the Pacers have won 7 straight and EVERY SINGLE TEAM is on the hunt for that 7th/8th spot - excluding the Nets.
How does Wilson Chandler help the Raptors? They’ve slipped into a funk, some New Year's Blues if you want to call it that. Chandler may not hold all the answers, but he brings something that the Raptors need from their role players.
Most career 14/5/2 guys have rather dispersed stats when you analyze them. They averaged under ten points in their first few seasons but were able to rack up 20+ in their prime years, evening it out to 15ish. Wilson, on the other hand, has averaged 14 and 16 points, since his second year (not counting 2011-12, when he only played 8 games all season). He is a model of consistency.
How would Chandler affect the Raptors rotation? In a previous article, I outlined them as looking like this…
Kyle Lowry - 37.2 MPG, Cory Joseph - 22.5 MPG, Fred VanVleet - 6.4 MPG
Demar Derozan - 35.3 MPG, Norman Powell - 14.9 MPG
Demarre Carroll - 26.4 MPG, Terrence Ross - 22.4 MPG, Bruno Caboclo - 2.9 MPG
Patrick Patterson - 28 MPG, Pascal Siakam - 17.5 MPG, Jared Sullinger - (returning from injury)
Jonas Valanciunas - 27 MPG, Lucas Nogueira - 20.6 MPG, Jakob Poeltl - 10.2 MPG
It’s tough to speculate where Wilson would go. Another thing to consider, what if the Raptors gave up another player to get Wilson? If we traded Ross for Chandler, let’s say, would he simply take Terrence’s minutes? How much of an upgrade is that for us? It’s tough to tell, and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.
It’s clear that Wilson desperately wants some consistency in his play. So who’s going to have to sacrifice their minutes for him? My best guess; Pascal Siakam.
Wilson has played a fair amount of minutes at the four-spot, and he could seriously be a threat in any lineup. He also fits himself into lineups quite easily. He’s a career 34% three-point shooter, so not an assassin, but a threat, for sure. He also has the size and athleticism to cover almost any power forward and almost all small forwards.
There are a plethora of nasty lineups that the Raptors could use with him;
And the list could go on and on.
Another bonus is that Wilson fits into Casey’s offense. He’s a decisive attacker with the basketball, he can play without the ball, and he spaces the floor. A talked about how he is a solid defender, but I haven’t mentioned what may be his most important gift to the team - he is another line of defense to use against Lebron.
Between Patterson, Carroll, and potentially the undersized Powell, the Raptors only have a couple “Lebron stoppers”. And to clarify, I don’t think there is legitimate Lebron stopper on the face of planet Earth. They’re more like, “Lebron containers”. A player like him can’t be stopped - only contained. A few players, such as Kawhi and Draymond, are your best bets, but even they have trouble keeping the King in check.
Wilson could simply be another option to use against LBJ. He truly is an unstoppable force, but having another weapon to use against him can seriously help. In the broader spectrum, Wilson matches up well against the Cavs in general.
Despite being labeled as top-heavy, they still have a number of role-playing weapons to mix together on the floor - Korver, Shump, J.R, Jefferson and Frye. Wilson could even be assigned to Kevin Love in a pinch.
Let’s be real here, if you’re a second tier team in the East, you have to build your team to beat the Cavs. Wilson gives the Raptors their best chance at doing this, and that’s why they need to go after him.
How Wilson could become a Raptor
Masai Ujiri - “Wow @olivercraig30, you make a great point. We’re going to go after Wilson Chandler.”
Craig Oliver - “Smart thinking Masai... Very smart.”
MU - “But what trades can we do? What do we have that Denver wants?”
CO - “I’m glad you asked Masai... I’m glad you asked.”
The Nuggets are currently sitting at 8th in the West, with Portland right on their tail, followed by Sacramento. It will be tough to hold this spot, however. The Nuggets are clutching onto their seed with a 23-28 record, and Portland is only a game back. Denver has no chance at making it to the second round of the playoffs - if they make it, but their young core has impressed; especially the emergence of Jokic as a potential star.
So what do the Raptors have that the Nuggets want? Draft picks and young assets. The Raptors own their draft pick, along with the Clippers’ pick top 15 protected. It’s safe to say that the Clippers pick will be safely in our hands.
The only downside to this trade is that Chandler is a 3-year investment. So if it doesn’t work out, for some reason, his 3-year $33 million deal could be a burden. That being said, here are a few trades that the Raptors could try. (Keep in mind, I’m grasping at straws for these. I simply threw together these trades that could potentially land Wilson in Toronto).
Raptors Receive: Wilson Chandler
Nuggets Receive: Terrence Ross
Raptors Receive: Wilson Chandler
Nuggets Receive: Cory Joseph, Pascal Siakam
Raptors Receive: Wilson Chandler, Ed Davis
Nuggets Receive: Terrence Ross, Maurice Harkless, Jared Sullinger
Trail Blazers Receive: Danilo Gallinari, Jusuf Nurkic
Raptors Receive: Wilson Chandler, Jameer Nelson
Nuggets Receive: Terrence Ross, Cory Joseph
These are just a few ideas that the Raptors could throw at Denver for Chandler. I also didn’t factor draft picks into any of these, but if the Raps’ were to go after Wilson, our pick - or the Clippers’ pick would surely be on the table.
CO - “There you have it Masai.”
Supply and Demand
Although the Raptors’ name hasn’t been a part of the swirls for trade rumors with him, it definitely could - and should be. If the Raptors are going to have a shot at beating the Cavs in the playoffs this year, and even getting past Washington or Boston, Wilson would be an essential piece to do so.
Wilson’s skill set is highly sought after, and if he officially goes up on the block, there will be a lot of bidders for him. Hopefully, if the Raptors can get him for the right price, Masai will pull the trigger.