Wilson Chandler's Improved Jump Shot Makes Him a Consistent Threat

Andrew KaufmanSenior Analyst IJanuary 7, 2009

As the defending-champion Boston Celtics worked their way back into the game in the fourth quarter, the Knicks could feel their once-large lead slipping away.

Second-year forward Wilson Chandler, on his way to a career-high 31 points, found himself with the ball on the right wing, guarded by Paul Pierce. As has been common practice this season, Pierce was laying off a bit in order to take away the drive, Chandler’s biggest weapon.

Chandler motioned, and power forward David Lee trotted over to the wing and set a high screen. Chandler calmly took one dribble to his left, pulled up one foot inside the three-point line, and swished a jumper.

It was a huge moment in the game, restoring the Knicks’ momentum—they would go on to beat the Celtics, 100-88. It might have been a much bigger moment in the Knicks’ future.

At the beginning of the season, I wrote about Chandler’s expanding role with the Knicks. He was an athletic, versatile player, who could get to the basket and had a nose for the ball. He had the potential to be an important piece of the team’s future.

His one big weakness was his shot. It was inconsistent at best and hindered his offensive game, as defenders could play a step or two off him.

Not anymore.

Chandler’s shooting stroke has undergone a complete renovation over the past two months. In November, he looked like exactly what he was—a lanky, athletic swingman who never devoted too much time to his shot, because he was too busy beating defenders to the hole.

Now, he looks like a shooting guard; his shot has the arc and rotation of the man he is replacing in New York—Jamal Crawford.

Chandler is still a bit inconsistent—as shown by his 41.9 shooting percentage, largely a product of his occasionally poor shot selection. But, other statistics show his improvement. He is averaging 14.6 points per game, which is double his 2007-2008 total. And he is shooting an impressive 82.3 percent from the free-throw line, a near 20 percentage points higher than last season.

Chandler’s improved stroke should benefit his entire offensive game, as defenders now have to defend him on the perimeter, opening up the driving lanes he used to see when nobody knew who he was. He may be quietly evolving into the Knicks’ most complete offensive player.