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Kennedy Chandler's At-Rim Finishing | The Friday Screener
Kennedy Chandler is one of the smallest point guards in this draft, but his creativity, body control, and awareness make him an encouraging at-rim finisher.
The 2022 NBA Draft has one of the most polarizing point guard classes in recent years, and Kennedy Chandler is adding fuel to that fire. The Tennessee point guard’s fascinating blend of speed, shooting, and scoring made him one of the top point guard prospects coming out of high school. While Chandler’s individual skill is evident, his translation to the NBA is murkier.
At 6’1 170-pounds, Chandler doesn’t necessarily have “NBA” size, which will limit him defensively and, theoretically, as an at-rim finisher. What encourages me about Chandler’s translation to the NBA, though, is the craft and effectiveness he’s shown with his at-rim finishing.
So far this season, Chandler is scoring 1.2 points per possession (PPP) around the rim in non-post-up situations (60th percentile), per Synergy. He has brilliant timing, excellent body control, and isn’t afraid of contact. Chandler is at his best attacking the rim when he dribbles off a screen where he is currently scoring 1.667 PPP, which ranks in the 100th percentile.
Here, we see Chandler’s defender go under the screen and get momentarily hung up on it. The drop defender shows towards Chandler, who hesitates at the top of the arc. The drop defender views this hesitation as his moment to recover to his man, and once he does so, Chandler uses his lightning first step to attack. The momentary lapse in defensive position gives Chandler a lane to the rim. As Chandler attacks, he secures the ball to avoid the dig from the help defender and uses a hop step to propel him to the rim before the help defender can fully rotate.
This time, Chandler faces a similar situation, but the drop defender is more patient with his recovery. As Chandler comes off the screen, he slowly probes towards the lane to see how the defense reacts. It is a subtle move, but once the drop defender turns his hips to recover, Chandler bolts to the rim. By getting the timing right, Chandler has ensured that the drop defender will be on his heels when he attacks. Chandler goes right at the bigger defender to negate his shot-blocking ability and has the strength to finish through the contact.
Again, Chandler’s defender goes under the screen but doesn’t get hung up on it. Chandler doesn’t hesitate, though, which makes all the difference. By immediately attacking, Chandler doesn’t allow his defender to fully recover to cut off his path. Instead, Chandler attacks his defender, who is forced to flip his hips. Chandler gathers the ball to avoid the dig, takes off early to disrupt his defender’s timing, and jumps into his defender to negate his shot-blocking ability before finishing through the contact.
At Chandler’s size, effectively using screens will be crucial for his scoring game, but he will have to prove he can create on his own. Thankfully, Chandler has one of the quickest first steps in the country. He will struggle against quick, physical defenders early in his career, but if Chandler can get a step, he’s likely finishing at the rim.
Here, Chandler has a favorable switch on the opposing center and clears everyone out. Chandler rocks into his load up and explodes to the rim. As he attacks, Chandler recognizes that his steps are miscalculated, and he’ll either have to take off early or chop his steps to take off closer to the rim. The latter option will allow the defender to recover and heavily contest the shot, so Chandler chooses the prior. By taking off before he gets to the block, Chandler gets off the ground before the defender and finishes with his inside hand.
Even when the defender makes contact, Chandler isn’t easily deterred. He again gets the favorable switch and crosses over to attack his defender’s high foot. This move forces the defender to reach in vain while flipping his hips. Chandler again secures the ball to avoid the dig and continues his drive to the middle of the lane instead of the opposite block. By doing this, Chandler ensures that his defender won’t get rim-side of him to block the layup. Chandler then uses the contact from the defender to propel himself to the opposite side of the rim, where he finishes the layup.
Even when Chandler doesn’t have a favorable matchup, he is still a threat to get to the rim. Below, Chandler has an athletic wing on him, but the defender has happy feet. Chandler uses this to his advantage and waits for his opportunity. Once the defender makes one of his weird two-footed hops, Chandler attacks. The attack isn’t immediate, but Chandler gets the defender on his hip and can now do as he pleases. Chandler eliminates his defender from the play with a change-of-pace dribble, attacks the block, and finishes through contact with a deft floater over the rotating rim protector.
Chandler’s floater numbers aren’t great so far, but he is steadily showing improved craft and touch. Here, Chandler capitalizes on the defensive miscommunication and quickly attacks. Chandler attacks the lane at a 45-degree angle but then changes his angle as he elevates to avoid the weak side rotations. Instead of launching himself straight to the rim, Chandler jumps to the side towards the baseline. He makes the floater, but alas, college refs can’t resist an opportunity to punch the air and make a lousy charge call.
Outside shooting was one of Chandler’s most significant selling points coming out of high school. So far, Chandler ranks in the 59th percentile with 1.054 PPP on three-point jumpers. Defenders have to respect Chandler’s outside shot, which creates opportunities for Chandler to attack the rim.
Here, Chandler’s defender closes out with a two-footed hop step. Chandler immediately attacks his defender’s high foot and is in the lane unimpeded since his defender can’t react until his feet are back on the ground. As we’ve seen throughout, Chandler utilizes an early take-off to beat the defender off the floor. This decision allows Chandler to fully employ his superb body control, double-clutch, and finish with his inside hand on the opposite side of the rim.
Finally, Chandler’s ability to get to and score at the rim also creates opportunities for his teammates. When Chandler attacks, he attracts immense attention, and teammates willing to relocate or cut will be rewarded. Chandler’s playmaking requires an entirely separate breakdown, but it didn’t feel right to not give you a taste of his interior playmaking.
Kennedy Chandler frequently gets doubted because he isn’t the most physically imposing point guard in this draft. While that should limit his at-rim finishing ability, Chandler has an immense amount of craft for a player his age. He finishes through contact and in a variety of situations. His timing, examination of defenders, and body control are sublime and crucial to how he attacks. Even though Chandler is on the smaller end of the point guard spectrum, he is still one of the most creative at-rim finishers in the country.