Chandler Parsons’ three-year deal with the Mavericks will pay him $46 million dollars. The monetary figure is not necessarily a reflection of the value Parsons brings to the table but rather purely expresses the amount Dallas felt it needed to offer in order for Houston not to match. It’s simply how restricted free agency works; if a team really wants the player, it must severely overpay him. As a result, Parsons will earn next season just a million less than Paul George, a player two years younger with a stronger track record of consistent two-way play and who has already reached higher highs.
That’s not to say Parsons is unfit to be well compensated. He is actually a very interesting player due to the strengths of his skill-set on offense. Developed by the Rockets to become the prototype wing player in the modern Era, Parsons is a great open court player, a legit threat from three-point range and an above average passer for his height out of dribble penetration. He is a particularly good fit for Dallas, which made great use of Vince Carter’s underrated pick-and-roll passing and can always use another shooter around Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis.
He hit 39.6% of his 338 three-point attempts off spot-ups, pick-and-pops, handoffs, screens, and in transition. Parsons has an unusual shooting motion – flexing his elbows more than you’re accustomed to seeing on pure shooters and at times bringing the ball all the way to the top of his head – but that’s how it works best for him, given his overall 59.4% effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoots. He gets good elevation off the ground, which leads to a high release point in combination with his height and a high arcing shot.
Parsons has demonstrated great ball handling skills for someone his height and though he doesn’t consistently dribble the ball low when he attacks off the bounce (a must for taller than average drivers through traffic), Parsons posted an average turnover rate for his position and only 44 of his 144 turnovers were classified as lost balls. He proved himself a very good passer on the move thanks to his high vantage point, not just in the halfcourt but also in transition, ranking ninth in the league in assist rate among position peers. Parsons runs very comfortably down the floor and shot almost 60% on fast-breaks, which accounted over a fifth of his shots.
He is not particularly fast either turning the corner or on straight line drives with an average-at-best first step and often struggled to maintain balance after contact due to his lean 227-pound frame but managed to get to the rim fine working on the ball as a third of his attempts were at the restricted area, yet two-point shots off cuts, offensive rebounds and in transition combined to produce just 36.4% of his 707 two-point attempts. Parsons can play above the rim if uncontested but has not yet shown the ability to finish through contact, with only 28 of his 236 free throw attempts coming on And-1s. He did display good balance in the air and touch to score at rim level, finishing within three feet at a 64.4% clip (league average) and having only 78 of his 329 attempts at the basket blocked (23.7%).
His top weakness on offense is jump-shooting off the dribble. Parsons simply can’t set up his preferred release motion bringing the ball up off the bounce, missing 39 of his 45 three-point attempts handling the ball in the pick-and-roll and in isolation. Overall, he hit just 32.6% of approximately 140 pull-up attempts and 33.3% on long-twos, which are shots Parsons mostly only took when the opponent ran him off the three-point line.
His most significant weakness was on defense. Parsons was constantly inattentive off the ball, staring at the strong side and allowing backdoor cuts. He doesn’t have much lateral quickness to fight through screens on pick-and-roll defense but was generally lackadaisical with his stance, especially if the screen came from Terrence Jones’ man, instances where the Rockets switched. Stronger opponents bullied him in the block, shooting almost 47.7% on postups. And he was a complete non factor on help defense, only within five feet of the basket and five feet of an opponent attempting a shot 2.5 times per game on average despite the fact he played over a tenth of his minutes as a small-ball power forward. His defensive rebounding rate was average. The Rockets allowed three points per 100 possessions fewer with him off the court.
Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara.