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VFL Kennedy Chandler Sets Career-High Point Total in Expanded Role

VFL Kennedy Chandler Sets Career-High Point Total
Photo By Andrew Ferguson/Tennessee Athletics

Former Tennessee Basketball point guard Kennedy Chandler has been producing modest games so far in his rookie season with the Memphis Grizzlies.

After getting selected by the Grizzlies in the second round of the 2022 NBA Draft, Chandler joined a team with one of the best point guard duos in the league with Ja Morant and Tyus Jones. Jones and Morant’s heavy involvement on the court has limited Chandler’s usage in his first year, as the VFL had only five outings with double-digit minutes in the first two months of the season.

In Memphis’ first game of December, though, Chandler had a career-night with Ja Morant sidelined due to rest. Chandler saw a career-high 26 minutes on the floor in the Grizzlies’ 101-93 win against the Miami Heat, totaling nine points, five assists, three rebounds, two steals–all of which are career-highs–and a block. Chandler also had a team-best +18 on the floor. The second highest on the team was forward Brandon Clarke with a +8.

Chandler filled up the stat sheet and served as a key piece off the bench for a short-handed Memphis team, who were missing three guards in the contest: Ja Morant, Desmond Bane and John Konchar.

The VFL’s energy and elite speed were significant reasons the Memphis native was able to produce at a high level during his lone season on Rocky Top, and both of those qualities were on full display in Memphis’ Monday night win.

Chandler’s highlights weren’t just plays in which he drove to the basket in lightning speed, either, as Chandler also made his presence known from beyond the arc.

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After the win, Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins applauded his players for getting the job done. Jenkins specifically mentioned Chandler by pointing out the VFL’s +18 and touting him for consistently diving for loose balls.

Later in his press conference, Jenkins more throughly examined Chandler’s night, noting that Chandler has been “hungry” for a big game.

“He’s been hungry for these opportunities and to attack it,” Jenkins said. “So it’s tons of credit to his preparation… Going up against a really good and physical team [tonight], he did things well on both sides of the floor… It’s something that is going to give him a lot of confidence.”

Chandler’s teammates also noticed his big night, as they jovially showered the VFL with pats on the back after the win.

The reigning SEC Tournament MVP will look to keep producing as a fast and physical option off the bench moving forward in his rookie season. Chandler’s Grizzlies currently sit third in the Western Conference at 15-9, half-a-game behind the New Orleans Pelicans and one full game behind the Phoenix Suns.

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