Now that we’ve gone over a week with the news that Houston decided to pass on Chandler Parsons, allowing him to be the big acquisition of the summer for Dallas, it’s time to dig in a little deeper on what the athletic forward leaves behind with the Rockets and what he could and needs to bring to the Mavericks.
(Courtesy of our own George Boyd)
I was enamored with Jose Calderon’s shot-fake last season. Parsons has one that is just as crafty. Rivaling the pass-fake, a good shot-fake is becoming a lost art. His creativity and flair with the passes are definitely a joy to watch, as well.
Injuries and necessary rest over the course of an 82-game season are just a nature of the beast. It’s interesting to note what happened in situation where it related to Parsons. James Harden missed eight games last season, leaving it to where it was Dwight Howard and Parsons running the show on offense. That means that Parsons had to take on an increased level of responsibility. Here is how he fared.
Nov. 13 vs. Philadelphia- L - 22 points, seven assists, six rebounds and five turnovers on 9-of-19 shooting, 1-of-5 from 3.
Nov. 23 vs. Minnesota – W - 14 points, four assists, six rebounds and three turnovers on 6-of-14 shooting, 1-of-4 from 3.
Nov. 25 @ Memphis - W - 17 points, one assist, three rebounds and three turnovers on 8-of-9 shooting, 1-of-2 from 3.
Nov. 27 vs. Atlanta – W - 14 points, four assists, five rebounds and two turnovers on 6-of-11 shooting, 2-of-6 from 3.
Dec. 21 @ Detroit – W - 20 points, three assists, seven rebounds and two turnovers on 9-of-15 shooting, 1-of-4 from 3.
Dec. 23 vs. Dallas – L - 21 points, two assists, five rebounds and four turnovers on 8-of-15 shooting, 1-of-4 from 3.
Jan. 28 vs. San Antonio – W – six points, four assists, six rebounds and zero turnovers on 3-of-11 shooting, 0-of-2 from 3.
Jan. 29 vs. Dallas – W - 26 points, five assists, four rebounds and two turnovers on 9-of-17 shooting, 2-of-6 from 3.
All in all, Parsons averaged 17.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.6 turnovers in those games. He shot 52 percent from the field but just 27 percent from 3-point range. The numbers hold to relative form and show signs of improvement in some areas as he averaged 16.6 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.9 turnovers for the season. He also shot 47.2 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from 3-point range. As you can see, four of the teams Houston played in this stretch ended up being participants in the playoffs.
Now there were the comments that Dwight Howard made to the Associated Press in Atlanta over the weekend. Players have confidence, guys. There’s just no other way to put it.
“It won’t affect us at all,” Howard said of Parsons signing a three-year, $45-million deal with the Mavericks. “We have myself and James [Harden]. We have the best center and the best two guard in the game on the same team. It’s on us.”
One makes you wonder why there’s such bravado from Howard on the situation.
Parsons did miss eight games last season. Could it be that Howard has an inkling that his numbers were better without Parsons last season and that he was more active when it was just a two-man combination with Harden. Here is what Howard did in those eight games that Parsons sat out.
Dec. 2 @ Utah – L – 15 points, nine rebounds, zero blocks on 7-of-12 shooting.
Dec. 4 @ Phoenix – L - 15 points, 18 rebounds, zero blocks on 4-of-11 shooting.
Jan. 8 vs. LA Lakers - W – 20 points, 13 rebounds, one block on 5-of-14 shooting.
Jan. 10 @ Atlanta – L - 15 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks on 7-of-11 shooting.
Jan. 11 @ Washington - W – 23 points, seven rebounds, zero blocks on 10-of-17 shooting.
Mar. 1 vs. Detroit – W – 17 points, eight rebounds, zero blocks on 5-of-7 shooting.
Apr. 12 vs New Orleans – W - 13 points, six rebounds, two blocks on 5-of-8 shooting.
Apr. 16 @ New Orleans – L - seven points, four rebounds, three blocks on 1-of-5 shooting.
As you can see, only Atlanta and Washington participated in the playoffs out of that group. Howard ended up averaging 15.6 points, 9.5 rebounds, 1.0 blocks on 51.8 percent shooting. Those averages are below his regular seasons postings of 18.3 points, 12.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks on 59.1 percent shooting from the field. The teams nearly aren’t as stout as the ones Houston played when it was just Howard and Parsons. As listed above, Dallas’ new man had numbers that were trending the same with signs of improvement in some areas while it was just a two-man show for him.
With his facilitating skills in Houston’s rapid-fire offense, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Parsons had an impact on Howard and Harden’s shooting percentages. They were considerably higher when Parsons was on the floor.
Parsons ON: Howard 59.8 percent shooting – Harden 46.1 percent shooting
Parsons OFF: Howard 56.4 percent shooting – Harden 44.3 percent shooting.
The numbers listed above aren’t the bottom line when it comes to Parsons’ potential productivity in a new role in Dallas. It will be an entirely different situation with different players, but the numbers do provide a framework or sample that can be referenced in determining what is actually possible for him.
You slowly have to wonder what Parsons’ ceiling can be. One of the members of the local media asked Parsons’ during his introductory conference call if he could envision himself being the next face of the franchise. Here is his reply.
“I think so, for sure. I’m definitely a team guy and I’m all about winning. I put the team before myself. I definitely view myself as that. Like I said, I can continue to get better. I have goals individually and as well as for the team. I’m going to keep working and keep proving people wrong. My whole career people have doubted me, whether if I could go D-1 (in college) or if I could be drafted and I was a second-round pick. I’ve always kind of been that underdog. I play in practice with that chip in my shoulder and just to continue to prove people wrong. I’ll continue to do that here. I look forward to it.”
He certainly doesn’t lack in confidence. Then again, most guys who are 25 don’t lack in that department. It’s an interesting thought or road you have to go down when you think about Parsons in this aspect. It’s certainly uncharted waters for the Mavericks. Let’s be honest, they haven’t done very well in regards to their drafting for the last decade or so. They’ve put their eggs mainly in the baskets of improving via free agency and the trade market. They’ve made that choice, and they’ve actually done pretty well for themselves over the years. By doing so, they haven’t had the kind of talent they have in Parsons. More specifically, they haven’t had the combination of talent they have in Parsons mixed together with the fact they have it at right when he’s ready to hit his next gear of potentially huge development and growth.
There’s a definite window in play here. Originally, Dallas and Dirk Nowitzki were reportedly set to come to an agreement on a three-year deal hovering around $30 million dollars. It ultimately shifted to being towards $25 million. In the original concept of the deal, Nowitzki would have the option to opt out of his deal after year two. The deal that was mutually agreed to does not have the clause where he can opt out. Taking age into account, it’s very possible that Nowitzki just signed his last deal. He could do one-year deals afterwards, but the odds could tilt towards this being it for him.
You could try to reference Parsons’ arrival in Dallas to that of James Harden leaving Oklahoma City for Houston or even Joe Johnson leaving Phoenix to go to Atlanta. Johnson led the Atlanta Hawks in several categories: points (20.2 per game), assists (6.5), and steals (1.26), three-point field goals made (128), and minutes (40.7) in his first season with the team. There was not the kind of hype surrounding Johnson as there currently is in Parsons, mainly due to the fact that Johnson’s acquisition was accompanied by a lawsuit between owners that skewed everything into such a ridiculous direction that Johnson was a bit of an afterthought.
As for Harden, he didn’t have quite the cast of characters awaiting him in Houston that Parsons has in Dallas. In his first season with Houston, Harden finished the season with career-highs in many statistical categories. He led the league in free throws attempted with 792 and was second in free throws made with 674, five behind former teammate Kevin Durant. He also finished in the top ten in points per game (fifth with 25.9), 3-pointers made (sixth with 179), steals per game (seventh with 1.82), and minutes per game (sixth with 38.3). The hype was there, and Harden backed it up.
There’s certainly a strong share of hype surrounding Parsons. Looking at what he produced last season, the hype is warranted.
The first part of the season or the entire first season will be about incorporating him into Coach Rick Carlisle’s system. Looking at it, Parsons can do a lot of the things that former Maverick Josh Howard did when he was still able to be effective as a member of the squad (attacking the rim, moving without the basketball, showing the ability to handle the basketball off the dribble, shooting). The edge shifts towards Parsons’ side as he has a stronger sense of court vision and playmaking ability. Howard didn’t quite possess the drive-and-kick ability that Parsons has.
The question then becomes, can Parsons produce on a level where he’s seen as a guy who can carry the franchise a couple of years down the road? That remains to be seen, but the timeline suggests Dallas has at least two seasons to get him ready for a bigger piece of the pie.
Something intriguing with Parsons in terms of off-court intangibles can be his recruiting skills. Parsons has already said he feels like he’s one of the best recruiters in the league. We’ve seen what he can do with Dwight Howard when he was available. The thing with Nowitzki is he’s never really been the best recruiter for Dallas (that title goes to Mark Cuban). Big fish free agents likely haven’t been as intrigued in coming to Dallas due to the fact that they’re joining Nowitzki in his mid-30s. If this was a decade ago, teams would likely be lining up to play with this kind of Nowitzki but much younger. Parsons could play a key role in bringing new talent into the organization, which could be huge.
One big way Parsons can prepare himself for embracing the role of being the man on a team is being Dirk Nowitzki’s shadow. Unfortunately, Nowitzki is still vacationing in Germany and Parsons is preparing to leave for Las Vegas for Team USA basketball responsibilities. One good thing is the fact that sources have confirmed that Carlisle will stay in constant communication with his new small forward while he’s gone. While he may not get the hands-on treatment that Monta Ellis received last summer, the communication will help lay the groundwork for Parsons.
More importantly, when Parsons gets back, he needs to feel comfortable being Nowitzki’s shadow. That’s not to say that he would be hidden. Parsons just needs to observe how Nowitzki handles everything when it comes to being apart of the organization. The early sessions on the gym, the weight training, the the late sessions at the gym: Parsons needs to see how Nowitzki works. As far as we’ve seen, it appears that Parsons is more than willing to partake in the observation. He wants to be a sponge when it comes to learning from Dallas’ face of the franchise. It should be an eye-opening experience.
Not to belittle what Dwight Howard and James Harden have done over their careers (both have made trips to the NBA Finals), but neither has the pedigree or experience that Nowitzki has. On top of that, Nowitzki has done things in his own unique way. Serving as a selfless superstar, Nowitzki has given everything he can to the organization he loves. That humble nature is something that Parsons has gravitated towards over the last few seasons as the two have become friends.
Parsons participated in Nowitzki’s charity baseball game last summer. While they were I-45 rivals, the two seemed to be awfully buddy-buddy when they were on the diamond for that weekend. Parsons was scheduled to appear again at Nowitzki’s game this summer, but he was then scheduled to appear at an NBA function, forcing him to back out. We’ve all seen how Mark Cuban and Parsons sealed the deal in regards to him signing his offer sheet. It almost seemed like a callback to Tom Cruise in ‘Cocktail’ or maybe that’s just the 1980s nostalgia in me begging to break free. What may be a little more interesting is the fact that the two have acted buddy-buddy in their own way as well in the past. (You never know what gold you’ll find when you accidentally stumble onto someone thinking Chandler Parsons is Gal Mekel.)
This isn’t being covered to say that the Mavericks have been tampering. It’s not against the rules for these people to be friendly or civil in social settings. They’re often connected by agents and things of those nature. But then again, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Mavericks were that interest in him, based on how Nowitzki and Cuban have interacted with him in the past.
The fact that there seems to be a strong sense of mutual respect between Nowitzki and Parsons can only be promising for their outlook.
X’s and O’s
The shot charts are absolute fantastic.
Here is what Parsons did last season.
Outside of the paint, Chandler’s positive offensive contributions came mostly from the right wing and corner. That does present a bit of a limited efficient scoring punch in those zone and may stunt his likelihood of being more of a featured player, but it should fit really well within the current framework of Dallas’ flow offense.
Looking at the chart again, you can see that he operates relatively strongly at the rim, too. In this sense, based on his athleticism, think of him as Shawn Marion (floor) replacement on offense. What I mean by that is that he can work well off the ball. He’s going to be able to work cutting to the rim, fading back to the three-point line and especially in transition.
Here is what Marion did last season.
Marion clearly benefitted from his cuts towards the rim or collecting offensive rebounds for second-chance opportunities. Parsons presents more to the table with his ability to work off the dribble. His opportunities aren’t as significant in volume due to the fact he has a knack for the drive-and-kick move.
With his ability to work without the ball and space the floor, he also fits as somewhat of a Jose Calderon replacement. He won’t shoot nearly as heavy as Calderon did from three or as efficiently, but his ability to stretch the floor is much-needed with the expected starting lineup.
Monta Ellis’ attacking nature was a much-needed addition to the offense mainly due to the fact that the Mavericks have been heavily reliant on mid-range jumpers. That’s mainly due to the fact that Nowitzki is such a monster in that zone. (SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT THE PERCENTAGES!) The team tends to rely on their jumpers more often than not, meaning the combination of both Ellis and Parsons will bring another new dimension to the lineup.
According to NBA.com’s SportVU player tracking statistics, Parsons averaged 6.2 drives per game last season (a drive being defined as any touch that started at least 20 feet from the hoop and was dribbled to within 10 feet). The Rockets averaged 7.7 points per game on his drives—4.4 scored by Parsons, 3.3 by his teammates. Meanwhile, Ellis was a juggernaut in this category as he averaged 10.1 drives per game last season. The Mavericks averaged 12.5 per game on his drives—7.3 scored by Ellis, 5.2 by his teammates.
Here is what Ellis did last season.
Now look at it meshed together with Parsons.
It’s scary to think of what these two can do. Based on their attacking nature, you have to respect that ability. If Ellis takes that “quantum leap,” he becomes even more dangerous. Parsons’ versatility provides the necessary texture (with perimeter shooting) to his penetrating that can cause more of a disturbance for the opposition.
What’s also interesting between these two is their ability to get theirs from the corners, but they won’t disrupt each other. You may be shocked to hear that Ellis shot an incredible 21-of-36 (58.3 percent) on left corner 3s last season. Parsons shot 21-of-46 (45.7 percent) on right corner 3s. Having each other as kick-out options when they drive will be a very good thing.
A quick aside bringing Marion back into the mix: if the defenses were willing to give up corner 3s due to Marion being on the corners, they’re going to be in a world of trouble with Ellis on the left and Parsons on the right.
As mentioned, the potential is there for a one-two punch with Nowitzki and Parsons. Here is what Nowitzki did last season (one of his most efficient ones of his career).
The floor runs red with Nowitzki’s dominance. Here it is with Parsons.
Like Ellis from last season, Nowitzki can have the same kind of impact on Parsons.
I had a dog when I grew up. He usually just sat around and did nothing as we both grew older (dogs generally do this as a way of life, but he was really old and you could tell he just didn’t have a lot going on to excite him). We got a puppy later on and as the puppy grew up, he was spry and energetic. He would try to play with the older dog. Eventually, the older dog became more energetic and the two had a blast together. Last season, Nowitzki was the older dog and Ellis gave him a shot of energy and life that he desperately needed. The two opened things up for each other on the offensive end of the floor, and it’s entirely possible that happens again with Parsons. The intriguing thing will be to see how all three work together.
Parsons’ approach to saying he wants more on his plate could rub people the wrong way. What has he done to say he wants money that usually is held for players of higher regard. If anything, you want a player like that on your roster. You want someone who is hungry and motivated to improve their game and take it to a higher level.
Houston ran more of an offense that was predicated on speed and blitzing. According to Parsons, Dallas’ offense has a little more structure to it, but runs with a lot of ball movement and free flow attack out of the pick-and-roll, and a lot of transition. He believes that it’s perfect and tailor-made for his game. Last season’s Mavericks squad was tied for second in terms of offensive efficiency. This offense is going to be a powerhouse next season. There’s going to be spacers, attackers and the rock in Nowitzki. It’s going to be fun to watch, and they have the potential to rise into the upper tier of the Western Conference, potentially as high as the fourth seed.
Parsons sees himself as a player that’s ready to take on more responsibility. Is he truly ready? We’re going to find out.
Get ready, folks. The attack is coming.