With Saric and Covington now members of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Wilson Chandler suddenly looks like a mid-summer steal for the Philadelphia 76ers.
When the Philadelphia 76ers made a surprise offseason move to commit a sizeable chunk of their available cap space to Wilson Chandler after he was dumped by the Denver Nuggets, it generated incredibly varied opinions across the board.
For some, Chandler looked like an unfortunate consolation prize for a team that struck out in their ‘star hunting’ escapades, while others questioned Chandler’s fit on the roster due to his 34.1 career 3-point shooting percentage.
However, for me at least, the move made perfect sense.
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Back in July, I wrote an article hypothesizing that Chandler could not only provide parody to Robert Covington on the second unit as a 3-and-D wing, but potentially replace him in the starting five should the former’s shot go cold. And now, four months later, that opinion has all but been validated, as Chandler prepares to start the first game of the Jimmy Butler-era as the Sixers starting power forward.
Now granted, this is technically his second start with the team, as Chandler did open the Sixers game against the Miami Heat in their starting five, but, those were extenuating circumstances when you consider that two of the team’s previous starters were taking unfortunately awkward press photos in Minnesota.
While the team could have simply opted to move Ben Simmons to power forward and keep Markelle Fultz in their starting five (another option I highlighted here), Brett Brown instead opted to give the nod to a player that up until this week was either unavailable or on a severe minutes restriction.
For better or worse, the Sixers are now all in on the win, and it’s abundantly clear that Chandler, even if he’s playing at only 80-percent, makes the team far more competitive in the opening minutes of a basketball game than Fultz in his current state.
Is that a tough pill to swallow?
Sure, it’s never nice to have a first round pick be considered a liability in only his second professional season, especially when said player was not only the first overall pick, but someone the team had to essentially trade away Jayson Tatum AND a future first to procure, but at this point that’s a sunk cost.
If Philly is finally going to move past The Process and take a serious shot at the Eastern Conference, and an NBA Championship, Coach Brown has to look past player development and instead for the best possible way to win. While it’s no fun to watch Fultz fall out of favor before he’s legally old enough to drink, it’s clear Chandler gives the team a better chance to win right now, and for the remainder of the season.
And the best part? The Denver Nuggets actually paid the Philadelphia 76ers a second round pick to take Wilson Chandler off of their hands earlier this summer. Pretty good value for a starter, huh?