The assertion came during a tremendous hot streak in which Chandler made himself look like a top candidate for the league’s Most Improved Player award.
Of course, Walsh also said this amid a flurry of trade rumors regarding Carmelo Anthony. Needless to say, those rumors became fact, as Anthony became a New York Knick, and Chandler and three of his teammates were in fact taking their talents to Denver.
While Anthony is set to elevate the Knicks to another level, there are questions as to how far a few of the Knicks’ former role players can take the Nuggets.
Raymond Felton, whose game saw a big boost from playing in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, will likely start to see his numbers finally level out from their perhaps inflated state. Furthermore, he is also coming off the bench in favor of fellow former Tar Heel Ty Lawson, a quick young guard who stands to benefit from the trade of Chauncey Billups. In his time as a reserve, Felton’s offense has struggled mightily, but he has averaged six assists in 31 minutes during his first two games off the pine.
Danilo Gallinari was the only former Knick thrust into the Nuggets starting lineup through both the first two games in the post-Carmelo Anthony era. After a first game in which he struggled through an arrant elbow to the face, Gallinari erupted for a season-high 30 points in his second game. While the offensive expositions are quite exciting, Gallinari displayed that same type of inconsistency as a Knick; it’s to be expected.
While Felton and Gallinari may have to continue making adjustments as they look to find their rhythm, Wilson Chandler’s stock is sure to continue to rise as he makes his transition with the Nuggets.
While Chandler may not have the explosiveness that a player like Gallinari has, he does have the potential to remain a very reliable scorer.
Chandler had became a jack of all trades in the Knicks offense—he has a consistent midrange jump shot, is aggressive enough to drive to the hoop for easy buckets, and can post up on smaller defenders. All of these abilities contributed to Chandler becoming a potent option in the Knicks offense behind Amar’e Stoudemire and Felton.
What will give Chandler the opportunity to become a more elite scorer (in addition to being on a Nuggets team that now craves dominant offensive options) is his three-point shooting.
While on the Knicks, Chandler improved his shooting from long-range by being planted in the corners again and again by Coach D’Antoni. Practice certainly makes perfect, and Chandler was absolutely encouraged to continuously take (and subsequently make) those shots from downtown.
Luckily for Chandler and his 36 percent three-point field goal percentage, the Nuggets offense is fast paced, just like the offense Chandler has become accustomed to in New York.
The Nuggets have so far relished the opportunity to have Chandler knock down three-pointers, as he has shot 4-of-6 from long range through his first two games. He is averaging an early 18 points per game on 52 percent shooting from the field as a Nugget. With Denver searching for a clear-cut No. 1 option on offense, could those 18 points per game possibly become 20 points or more?
Chandler’s ability to quickly run up the floor, and meet rapid-fire point guards Lawson and Felton at the other end of the court for easy buckets has also made Chandler an early asset for his new team.
With five former Knicks on the squad (including Timfoey Mozgov—also included in the trade—and Al Harrington, who played for D’Antoni the last two seasons), the Nuggets would be smart to keep an up-tempo pace, and Chandler would absolutely stand to benefit from it.
Using the same skills that made him a fantastic complementary option on the Knicks, Chandler has the opportunity to elevate his game and become a top scorer on the Nuggets. Should he help his new team hold steady in this year’s playoff race, and perhaps even rise above even more next year as well, Chandler could be looking at a potential All-Star appearance as early as next season.
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