Not so fast on that take “Chandler made a mistake”




A natural duo of questions emerge whenever a non-senior declares for the NBA Draft and is not selected in the first round, as things surprisingly unfolded for the former Tennessee star. Kennedy Chandler Thursday night.

What did the NBA franchises know that we — and the analysts who do a seemingly endless number of fictional drafts — didn’t know?

Would returning for another season in college have been the best decision?

Those are two good questions to ask after Chandler left the board at No. 38 overall — No. 8 in the second round — to the San Antonio Spurs, who will ship the point guard to his hometown Memphis Grizzlies for a future second round. pick and cash, according to multiple reports late Thursday night.

Former leader of the Kennedy Chandler Flights (Photo: Robert Goddin, USA TODAY Sports)

Let’s examine these two questions.

To answer the first question, we don’t know. At least I don’t know. But I suspect I’m not alone. Virtually every mock draft from reputable outlets knocked Chandler off the board by the end of the first round. If the league general managers all decided before the draft that they weren’t going to pick Chandler in the first round, they did a good job of keeping their mouth shut. It wasn’t necessarily surprising that Chandler didn’t drop out of the board in the top 30 picks, but it certainly came as a surprise. Several national NBA and college basketball reporters openly scratched their heads Thursday night, and some of those NBA reporters were former NBA players, coaches, and front office types.

It’s not like some potential issues with Chandler were unknown before Thursday’s event. It’s no secret that he stands a fraction over 6 feet tall. The hope for Chandler and those around him was that his nearly 6-foot-6 wingspan and ridiculous athleticism — he led the pack with a 41.5-inch vertical leap in the NBA Draft Combine — would be more than enough. to allay these concerns.

Were there any other concerns? Sure. There had to be. Or Chandler would have gone off the board in the first round. His 60.6% free throw at Tennessee last season was a known hit, but Chandler is a good enough shooter from everywhere else on the court — including from distance — that it’s hard to suggest it could be. improved as his career progressed.

Is the lack of size a bigger problem than it would have been in the past in the NBA, at least in some positions? Sure. There is probably a lot of truth in this argument. But there are several players the size of Chandler or smaller in The League, and some of them are big players. And Chandler’s athleticism combined with effort Rick Barnes demands on defense made the playmaker a much better player at that end of the field by the time he left Knoxville. He was an absolutely sensational defensive guard at times, and not just because of his stealing numbers.

Unless there’s some nasty skeleton character in Chandler’s closet that I’m not aware of, no one has ever had a problem with him in that area. The Grizzlies didn’t need to travel far to do their homework on him, whether in Memphis, Knoxville or Kansas, if they wanted to be this thorough on the matter, and they felt comfortable doing so. pick 38th. However, they passed up two chances to catch him earlier in the draft, and they didn’t.

In other words, the most logical explanation is that Chandler stayed on the board for 37 picks Thursday night because 30 teams thought there were better basketball options on that board at the time. Perhaps the general consensus was indeed that Chandler was a late first-round talent, but every team picking late in the first round and seven picks in the second round simply believed that better options were feasible at the time.

Either way, the destination surely won’t mind the Memphis kid. He begins his professional career in his hometown and he will play alongside his mentor and close friend. Ja Morant – one of the most exciting talents in all of sports anywhere in the world right now. We know Morant is excited about it. He’s tweeted about Chandler multiple times over the past two years, and he tweeted “@KChandler_1 im sooo lit rn” moments after the pick was announced Thursday night. He included a photo of the two training together in this tweet.

Morant added two more tweets addressed to Chandler “little brother staying in da M” and “let’s go la brudda”.

(Photo: Kim Klement, USA TODAY Sports)

So… yes, Ja is happy about that. Needless to say, Chandler is too, although his first-round drop will certainly move him forward a bit. That’s usually the case with elite athletes like Chandler, and maybe this fire will help him overcome the worries some had for him before he reached the top level of the game.

Now let’s look at the second of those two Chandler questions we posed earlier.

Would returning for another season in college have been the best decision?

Many will no doubt make this point. They’ll say another year under the tutelage of the leading wizard Rick Barnes would have made Chandler a better player and therefore a more complete prospect. They’ll say Tennessee had the NLI funds to match a second-round NBA contract.

These people can make statements that are true in a vacuum but arguably irrelevant when viewed through a larger lens.

Will playing for Barnes make you better? Absolutely, it will. But so will a year spent working for an NBA coaching staff and alongside one of the best players in the league and one of the best teams in the league.

Even though Chandler is spending his rookie season back and forth between the Grizzlies and their NBA G League affiliate — the Memphis Hustle — he will still spend this year working with coaches and players who can make him better. And he can spend as much time as he wants in basketball. There will be no class work that will interfere with part of his daily routine.

Maybe Chandler could have come back to Knoxville and made himself a surefire first-round pick next year. But there is absolutely no way to guarantee it. What if Chandler was struggling on the ground? What if he suffered a serious injury? What if he was doing more harm than helping his stock? Either way, it won’t grow. He’s a bit old for that.

It’s easy to shoot the Chandler right now and suggest he made a mistake. But you won’t see that catch from this ending. More importantly, you definitely won’t see this from Chandler himself. He probably doesn’t regret his decision, given the destination. He is a young man who, like most of his peers, dreamed of playing in the NBA. Now he has a chance to do so.

The reality is that we don’t know if Chandler made a mistake, and we won’t know for several years. Betting against the kid is a risky thing, and you won’t see this bet being made for that purpose. He’s not tall, but he’s a great player with athleticism and skill that should translate to any level of the game.

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