Can Kennedy Chandler overcome his size to thrive in NBA?


The Washington Wizards have the 10th overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2022 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Profile: Kennedy Chandler

Team: Tennessee

Position: Point guard

Age: 19 (turns 20 in September, 2022)

Height: 5-11

Weight: 172

Wingspan: 6-5

2021/22 stats: 34 G, 13.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.7 apg, 2.2 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.4 FG% (5.4/11.5), 38.3 3PT% (1.4/3.8), 60.6 FT% (1.8/2.9)

Player comparison: Darius Garland (without the shooting pedigree)

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 21st, Sports Illustrated 38th, Ringer 24th, Athletic 27th, ESPN 21st, NBADraft.net 34th, Bleacher Report 22nd

5 things to know:

- Chandler is an advanced playmaker at this stage of his career with an ability to get into the teeth of the defense and find open teammates. He's quick and can change his pace on a dime to keep defenders off balance all while limiting turnovers. Chandler may be small, but his fingerprints are all over the games in which he plays. 

- His size will hinder his defensive versatility at the next level, but that's about the only complaint you can make about Chandler's defense. Especially guarding on the ball, Chandler does a great job containing dribble penetration and snaking around screens to keep the play in front of him. He even has a sneaky-long wingspan at 6'5 despite the fact that he's a sub-6-foot guard. That should help him a little bit when he tries to guard up a position or two, but don't expect Chandler to have success switching on to wings. Point of attack defense is more important than ever (see: Marcus Smart and Mikal Bridges finishing No. 1 and 2 in DPOY voting), and Chandler is great at it. 

- Chandler is a reliable shooter and scorer off the bounce, especially in pick-and-roll settings to keep defenses honest regarding his playmaking prowess. He shot over 46% from the floor and 38% from three on decent volume. The 60% mark at the free-throw line is definitely concerning but his mechanics don't appear broken at this point in his career. Chandler's jump shot needs to translate for him to be worthy of a first-round selection. If he can't force defenses to worry about his jumper as he turns the corner in pick-and-roll, his strength as a playmaker won't matter as much. 

- As good a player as Chandler is, his size will always be the major question mark regarding his game. As the NBA game continues to shift toward the perimeter and bigger players are becoming more and more skilled with the ball, it's getting harder for defenses to get away with playing small guards significant minutes. The ones who do play a lot tend to be superb offensive talents like Stephen Curry, Trae Young, Kyrie Irving and Chris Paul. Chandler might be smaller than all of them, too and he's not expected to be a 20-30-point scorer either. If you're going to present a defensive mismatch every second you're on the floor, you have to provide a ton of value on offense to make up for it.

- Chandler was an incredibly successful high school player, winning a state championship in 2019 and nearly another in 2020. He was named Mr. Basketball in Tennessee two years in a row as a sophomore and junior and was a consensus top-10 recruit by the time he committed to play for the Volunteers. Chandler plays the game like a winner, and he's done a lot of winning throughout his young career. 

Fit with Wizards:

It's no secret the Wizards need a point guard and there's a chance they use the 10th overall pick to fill that need on draft night. Chandler would be a reach at No. 10, given his stock is somewhere around the late-first, early-second-round with a few weeks to go before the picks are made.

If Washington were to land Chandler, it would probably have to include a trade back into the latter part of the first round or a situation where they move up in the second round to secure his services. It'd be hard to imagine the Wizards using only a late-round draft choice to address the point guard position, so Chandler's role would largely depend on who else Washington would bring in to compete for minutes next to Bradley Beal

But strictly from a basketball perspective, Chandler does a lot of what the Wizards need. Washington has a lot of scorers and mouths to feed on offense and Chandler's playmaking would fit in nicely with the core group. He's quick enough to get into the paint consistently, which isn't something the Wizards did a great job of last season, and if his jumper translates, he could play off the ball effectively as well.

Then on defense, his pressure at the point of attack would be a welcomed addition to what Wes Unseld Jr. wants to accomplish. The Wizards tended to play Daniel Gafford and Kristaps Porzingis in a "drop" coverage in pick and roll to protect the paint, and that kind of scheme needs players like Chandler who can fight around screens, pester ball handlers and get in passing lanes. 

Chandler and the Wizards don't appear to be a match based on how the draft board will likely shake out. However, if he somehow lands in DC, Chandler brings elements the Wizards could certainly use. 

2022 NBA Draft profiles:

Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Paolo Banchero, Duke

Keegan Murray, Iowa

Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

Jalen Duren, Memphis

Dyson Daniels, G-League Ignite

Ousmane Dieng, International

Tari Eason, LSU

Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

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