Denver Nuggets: Ill Will Has Been the Team’s X-Factor Through 6

Oct 16, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) dribbles past Portland Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless (4) during the first quarter at the Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer-USA TODAY Sports

The Denver Nuggets are now sitting at 3-3, and those three wins would not have been possible without the return of Wilson Chandler to the rotation.

The Denver Nuggets got an absolute animal when Wilson Chandler returned. So far this season, Ill Will has averaged 15.7 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game. Oh, and he is coming off the bench.

Wilson Chandler has quickly became one of the Nuggets go to players. His excellence is needed for Emmanuel Mudiay and others to explode due to Chandler’s ability to stretch the floor and to knock down shots.

Wilson has ranked as the teams fourth best scorer, fourth best rebounder, and has the teams second best +/-. Although not used much, the lineup with Jokic-Chandler-Gallinari-Mudiay-and Nelson has been the best lineup so far (more than one game played).

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The impact he has made has been terrific, and now we will look a little more in depth at what Wilson does for the team.

Oct 12, 2016; Lincoln, NE, USA; Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) fell to the floor during the Minnesota Timberwolves in the second half at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Minnesota won 105-88. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson Chandler can do all

In a article by the Denver Post, Coach Mike Malone was quoted to have said this:

“Wilson is kind of like a utility knife; you can use him in so many different ways,” Malone said. “When he was ruled out for the season last year, it was a devastating blow because we all felt that he probably checked more boxes than anyone else on the roster. If you look at offense, defense, rebounding, toughness and intangibles, that was a big loss for us. So, to have him back to play with Gallo (Danilo Gallinari) when we go small, to guard the other team’s best wing player, rebound, it’s great to have him back, and obviously, he’s a big part of what we’re trying to do this year.”

Denver has used Wilson in a number of ways and have continued to include him in the offense. He has the third best usage percentage on the Nuggets at 23.1. Obviously Coach Malone is happy to have him back, and the whole Mile High is happy to see Chandler doing work for the Denver Nuggets.

While Chandler is known on offense for his terrific ability to spread the floor, he is also an incredible athlete.

This was a key moment in the game as it almost put the Wolves outside of reach for the comeback. Wilson is not only an offensive weapon, but he is also a defensive weapon.

Nov 3, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns (32) dribbles the ball as Denver Nuggets forward Wilson Chandler (21) defends in the first half at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Wilson Chandler the Defender

Defense stats? Yessir.

Wilson Chandler has been spectacular this season, and his stats prove it.

Ill Will has held the opponent to shooting just 34.5% from the field according to NBA.com. The site also tracks how well the opponent shot throughout the season and while defended by a specific defender. When matched up against Wilson Chandler, opponents shoot -9.5% more than they usually do.

Chandler has been able to defend players such as Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns this season. While those are some of the NBA’s best and can not be stopped, it is exciting to see Malone allowing Chandler to play them. If Chandler can play the four with success, the Nuggets may have found one of the West’s best small ball lineups.

Wilson has yet to play against the leagues best small forwards, but the Nuggets have Parsons coming up and then Kevin Durant after that.

This upcoming stretch will be vital for Ill Will to continue to prove that he could be the Sixth Man of the Year. Is it too early to say that?

The Nuggets have seen success so far this season, and it is in part to Ill Will and his contributions.

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