Shortly after the big trade last August, we took a look back at a game in which Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller had helped the Philadelphia 76ers defeat the Denver Nuggets. Now it’s time for a similar retrospective of a game from a period when Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari were playing some of the best basketball of their careers: the first half of the 2010-11 season. The date was December 12, 2010, and the New York Knicks beat the Nuggets 129-125 just months before the Carmelo Anthony trade.
My main purpose in choosing this game is that it’s one of Chandler’s all-time best. Unfortunately, between injuries and his decision to play most of last season in China, we’ve had only a limited opportunity to see what Wilson can contribute to this Nuggets team when he’s fully healthy and really hitting his stride. In this game we can see what’s pretty much a best-case-scenario-Chandler, especially in terms of shooting and defense. He went 10-17, including 5-9 from the arc, with seven rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block. A huge part of the reason Denver lost was that Melo took 27 shots but only made 11 of them, and that was due in no small part to the defensive efforts of Gallo and Chandler, some of which can be seen in this video.
The bottom line is that if this is the Wilson Chandler who shows up this season, and especially if the point guards can set him up for easy, open spot-up buckets as effectively as Raymond Felton does in this game (though granted, they were admittedly playing against Denver’s perimeter defense), he will soon prove to be a significant upgrade over Al Harrington on both the offensive and defensive ends, provided that he can return to full health. And if he truly recovers that spark in his game which he really hasn’t had since leaving the Knicks, he definitely has a legitimate chance of making some noise in both the Most Improved Player and 6th Man discussions.
A final thought: It’s really hard to get over how completely this Nuggets team has changed in so little time. This game was less than two years ago, and it already seems like ancient history. Shelden Williams and Gary Forbes just about says it all.