Wilson Chandler’s Advice for Rookies: Be Like Kawhi Leonard


Recently TMZ caught up with Wilson Chandler to ask him about being a rookie and some of the things he did and would say now since he is a veteran player in the NBA.

Wilson Chandler has been in the NBA since the 2007-2008 season, starting out as a New York Knicks player, and worked his way into being an exceptional talent. Chandler has a career scoring average of 13.7 points per game and has played for both the Knicks and Nuggets in his nine year career. Injuries sidelined him a lot and has limited him to an average of 45.9 games per season.

Chandler would know about being prudent with money, because he has only played one full season, which makes it very difficult to score one of the heavy duty max contracts that you see players taking.

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What’s his advice to rookies about to be drafted and coming into the NBA? Save your money, and be wise like Kawhi Leonard. He’s been good.

That’s a very high compliment because he has been watching Leonard from afar, but that’s not why Leonard hasn’t gone into full spend and flash mode.

Leonard has never been interested in the boisterous. Whatever he does that impresses is usually the result of his hard work, and everything else just happens to follow. Even then he just doesn’t get sucked into being wasteful, and is somewhat of an example because of it.

Before he was drafted, he was more concerned about taking care of his business in college than to jump right into the NBA. When the New York Times asked him about taking the money that will be available to him, Leonard answered with this:

My family doesn’t need the money right now. We’re not starving, hungry, living poor. It will be nice to have a lot of money, but I think my family could hold out for two more years if I play through my senior year

He drove his same Chevy Malibu throughout college and into his early NBA days because he just wasn’t into the spending, as he told the the San Diego Tribune about his Malibu:

I don’t have a car not on it. It’s good on gas. It’s a good commuter car.

May 2, 2016; San Antonio, TX, USA; San Antonio Spurs small forward Kawhi Leonard (2) shoots the ball past Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) in game two of the second round of the NBA Playoffs at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

Most young players would go out and buy a car immediately, but Kawhi didn’t. After his Malibu, he took an old 97 Chevy Tahoe named Gas Guzzler from his grandmother’s house, and fixed it up so he can drive it all around his hometown. Kawhi’s mindstate:

It runs. And it’s paid off.

You may not expect rookies to take the same approach, but the mindset is what matters. You don’t need a Lamborghini or a Rolls Royce to get around. Just be wise enough to not blow all of your money on cars.

Kawhi did finally get 1 new car, only after a max contract and heavy pressure from family and friends to get something new. It is a Porsche, but the catch is that he only drives it on game nights. Otherwise he is still taking his Tahoe wherever he goes.

Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated duly noted one thing about Kawhi’s eating habits.

He is happy to sponsor Wingstop, which sends him coupons for free wings, so he can feed his Mango Habanero addiction. This winter, after his $94 million contract kicked in, he panicked when he lost his coupons. Wingstop generously replenished his supply.

Leonard is much more frugal, less flashy, and uncaring about being a big shot with his wealth. It takes being wise and mature to remember to save, and to not make too many bad financial decisions for kids barely old enough to drive.

The best advice Chandler could pull from the top of his head after being around the NBA for a while about keeping a straight head when the pressure of riches come is to be like Kawhi Leonard.

You can watch the Chandler interview below.

Next: Kawhi Leonard Not Expected to Play for Olympic Team