During his lengthy suspension, Wilson Chandler ran and worked out and ran some more, his teammates dubbing him Captain Cardio.
But since coming back, heâ€™s finding out thereâ€™s a big gap between being in good shape and game shape. And with the Nets riddled with injured, they need him in game shape.
â€œItâ€™s very different,â€ Chandler said. â€œWhen youâ€™re playing, youâ€™ve got bodies, youâ€™ve got a lot of athletic guys, a lot of strong guys. So just maneuvering around them, bumping and grinding with those guys, plus having to run up and down the court is a whole different dynamic.
â€œAs far as the plays and teammates, itâ€™s been pretty easy. Kicking off the rust has been hard. But thatâ€™ll come in a couple weeks, a few weeks, however long it takes. Cardio, lift, explosiveness, stuff like that.â€
Chandler had to serve a 25-game PED suspension at the start of the season. He returned Dec. 15 against Philadelphia, and has played the past four games, trying to shake off the rust going into Thursdayâ€™s game against the Knicks.
â€œWillâ€™s been Will,â€ coach Kenny Atkinson said. â€œHeâ€™s been solid. I donâ€™t think heâ€™s in peak form right now. Obviously thatâ€™s normal after the period heâ€™s been out. Weâ€™ll need scoring from him on that second unit. Heâ€™s very capable of doing it. â€¦ But we knew that was going to happen. Itâ€™s going to take some time.But weâ€™re going to need him to score, thereâ€™s no doubt about it.â€
The Nets have been playing without Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Caris LeVert, Nic Claxton and now David Nwaba.
Basically, they need all the scoring punch and bench help they can get.
â€œHeâ€™s going to have to carry a scoring burden,â€ Atkinson said. â€œOf course play defense and rebound, thatâ€™s his forte, but weâ€™re going to need him on that second unit to score more than he has in the recent past. Heâ€™s very capable. I know heâ€™s capable. Right now heâ€™s still trying to find his rhythm, but weâ€™re going to need him down the line.â€
Chandler enters Thursday having jumped right into the rotation with 18:41 in his season debut. He has logged between 18 and 23 Â½ minutes in each contest. With Nwaba gone, he will be a key part of the second unit.
â€œI have no clue. But if it happens, then Iâ€™m always ready for the task,â€ Chandler said.
While he has averaged 5.3 points on 45 percent shooting, he has made just 1 of 8 from 3-point range. That from the same player who shot 37.3 percent from deep last season, including a solid 39.0 percent in 36 games â€” 32 of them starts â€” for the Sixers before being traded for Tobias Harris.
â€œWillâ€™s played great. They took [Garrett] Temple from us, so that sucks. They took Spencer [Dinwiddie] from us. So weâ€™ve got to readjust,â€ DeAndre Jordan said of the bench being depleted by injuries forcing reserves into starting roles.
â€œHeâ€™s been great. Heâ€™s a veteran in this league, heâ€™s played a long time. He was trying to find his spots, pick his spots. We threw him in the fire and he knew that coming in. Heâ€™s been great offensively, cutting, getting guys involved, playing defense. He helps us rebound. Weâ€™re lucky to have him back. Hopefully he can stay healthy to have us jell.â€