#NuggetsRank No. 3 Wilson Chandler

Wilson-Chandler-Nuggets
Every year around this time ESPN introduces its annual #NBArank series codifying all 500 players in the NBA from least to most valuable. Last year Roundball Mining Company decided to get in on the action and began ranking each of the players on the Denver Nuggets’ final 15-man roster in the same fashion. We’ve polled all seven of our writers, asking them to arrange each player on the Nuggets roster from one to 15 (one being the best, 15 the least valuable), then we added everyone’s scores together to come up with a single, definitive list of the 15 “most valuable” Denver Nuggets. Wilson Chandler goes from No. 7 last year all the way into the top three.

Last season was a strange one for Wilson Chandler. It was unequivocally the best season of his career, he posted highs in PER and win shares per 48 minutes, and his return midway through the year ended up providing the Nuggets with the integral gear off the bench that launched their huge second half. As his team leading net rating on the court would suggest, Chandler’s versatility unlocked an innumerable number of big and small lineups for Karl to play with and the Iguodala-Brewer-Chandler unit propelled the Nuggets to a borderline top ten defense almost by themselves.

The key to unlocking these lineups was Chandler’s ability to play the four (the Nuggets were a plus-107 when Chandler played power forward per 82games.com) and the key to unlocking his potential there was his three point shooting. On 126 three point attempts last season Chandler averaged a cool 41.3 percent shooting, a mark that put him in true stretch-four territory.

The problem arises when you look at Chandler’s career percentages, and find that his three point shooting this year eclipsed the best mark of his career by more than 6 percent, which is essentially the difference between a below average shooter and a marksmen. If Chandler returns to his career norms, an inefficient volume three point shooter, not only does playing him at the four become a risky proposition, the Nuggets will lose a floor spacer they sorely need from a player who will likely receive starter-level minutes to start the season.

Additionally, Chandler will be the Nuggets best, and perhaps only, real wing defender now that Brewer and Iguodala are gone and with Gallinari hurt. Through a coaching change, a shift in the front court hierarchy, and four free agent signings Wilson Chandler remains the biggest enigma on the team. Will he continue to have use as a legitimate stretch-four? Can he at least mitigate the losses of Brewer and Iguodala on defense until Gallinari gets back? Will he embrace Shaw’s new system with the same fervor as he did with Karl’s run-and-gun?

The answer to the Wilson Chandler question may just determine how far this team can really go.

#NuggetsRank

15. Anthony Randolph

14. Quincy Miller

13. Timofey Mozgov

12. Jordan Hamilton

11. Randy Foye

10. Darrell Arthur

9. J.J. Hickson

8. Andre Miller

7. Evan Fournier

6. Nate Robinson

5. JaVale McGee

4. Kenneth Faried

3. Wilson Chandler

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David Walker

Freshman at FSU. Love the Nuggets, the beach, and the game that involves a ball that occasionally goes into the hoop.
  • Bricks

    Nice assessment of the enigmatic Chandler, David. Painful reminder, too, how much the Nuggets lost at wing-D by letting Brewer and Iguodala go . . . and no one brought in to adequately replace them. How do they compensate? IMO, a 100% commitment to developing lethal defensive intensity in the post. It’s time for the Nuggets’ 4s and 5s to redefine the identity of this team.

    • young_guru

      Brewer was perfect for George Karl’s defense, don’t know how’d he be in a more disciplined Adam Shaw defense. I’ve honestly never seen a defense at the NBA level that was as risky and unorthodox as GK’s defense the last couple years. I’ve never seen players cheat passing lanes so much and I’ve never seen so much rotation. Brewer thrived because A: he had a knack for anticipating when one of his teammates would get a steal- he’d be halfway down the court by the time they controlled the ball to pass it up. and B: he’s got such long arms and such an instinct for when a pass is going to happen he forces a lot of turnovers.
      When the playoffs came and they had to be a bit more disciplined Brewer was really not effective on defense, and therefore abysmal on offense. He is not a good scorer unless on the fast break. Anyway, correct me if I’m wrong, but Harrison Barnes had his coming out party in that series and Brewer was one of the guys who was assigned to him. He didn’t do much better against Klay Thompson either.

      But yeah, I’m thinking if the Nuggets have any chance at all of being a decent defensive team, it has to come from the bigs. Unfortunately JaVale McGee isn’t much more than a shot blocker (which honestly leads to more open baskets than it provides stops) and Faried is undersized and frankly, a below average defender. JJ Hickson is below average (though I’m hoping that’s because he’s been playing as an undersized center for most of his career and now should get more opportunity at power forward). The only solid defensive addition is D. Arthur who is really good against the pick and roll which is something the Nuggets simply haven’t understood how to defend in the past.

      • DavidRMC

        For all the lamenting of Denver’s defensive principles last year (and some are valid) they did have the 11th best defense in the league and ranked 8th in defending both areas of the pick and roll. Closing out on shooters was their main problem and that burned them against Golden State.

        As for Brewer, I’ll admit I’m a bit of a fanboy but he was one of the best “risk taking” stealers in the league, he rarely left his man until he was sure Denver had the ball. Brewer and Gallo’s (short term) losses hurt but Iggy’s loss is the biggest. He’s a legitimate top ten defender in the league and covered a ton of holes. Now the perimeter is almost as porous as the interior.

    • disqus_mThEJaZCaB

      Brewers defense is a very overrated part of his game. He constantly gambles and most of the time loses.

    • Matthew Owens

      You are overrating Brewers defense. How many 3’s did he give up this season? Remember that infamous one to Ray Allen?

      He’s really not that good of a defender. Good at stealing the ball, but someone with ball handling is going to take him out every time.

  • Daniel Lewis

    I hope if/when Gallo comes back, Chandler pushes Foye out of the rotation. I really like Chandler’s game – good write-up.

  • Dom-Chain Breaker-Buckley

    I never understood why people assumed Brewer was a solid Wing Defender. He could only guard guys who were smaller and less aggressive than he was. Don’t get me wrong he was a solid contributer but I doubt nuggets will miss his Defense

    • Bricks

      Disagree big time. Instant energy off the bench. Boney 6-foot 7-inch pest who wasn’t afraid of anyone. CBrew personally won a handful of games for Nugs while he was here. My fave: No time on the clock against Philly. Brewer fouled. Nugs down by 2. CBrew at the line . . . Swish . . . Swish . . . Swish! Nuggets win 101-100! Clutch.

      Best facet of CBrew’s game was and is in-your-face defense, though. Milwaukee’s gonna love him there. And Nuggets will miss that dude. No doubt.

      • Dom-Chain Breaker-Buckley

        I agree with you that he was a pest but does that mean he was a solid defender? I don’t recall him ever stopping any Star at the 1-3 spot. He was a decent scorer and added good energy but he disappeared in the playoffs

        • Bricks

          Agreed, Brewer was awful in the playoffs last year, which is too bad, because that’s how so many fans will probably remember him. And about “stopping a Star,” who actually does “stop” a Star in the NBA? No one, consistently. That’s why they’re “Stars,” they’re unstoppable on most nights. Brewer wasn’t the best lock-down guy in the league, but ask any coach in the NBA if they’d like to have CBrew coming off his team’s bench to play his hustling, pesky brand of defense . . . pretty sure most would love to have him.

          • Dom-Chain Breaker-Buckley

            Of course. But when you can’t perform in the playoffs, you gotta go!! That’s what it’s all about. That’s why Karl is gone.

            But more than that Brewer was a solid reserve but The Nuggets will be able to get the same production out of a lot of guys. I’m excited to see what Fournier and Hamilton can do while Gallo is out

      • dagus1976

        Minnesota…not Milwaukee right?

  • dagus1976

    #3 IF he can stay healthy. IF.

  • Warner Dean

    I’m a big fan of Chandler and having him play the 4. However, with Gallo’s injury and our depth at the 4, I believe it would be wise to keep Chandler at the 3 and perhaps even the 2 as much as possible. My reasoning for this? Injuries. He’s had a history of injuries and having him banging around with guys who are up to 30 pounds heavier than him may not be wise with Gallo hurt. Chandler will play a major part in whatever this team accomplishes this season regardless of position. I think he’s bound to breakout for the best year of his career. 18ppg, 6rb, 40% 3, 46% FG