In Defense of Chandler Parsons

"Hey Chandler, want to play with me next season?"

“Hey Chandler, want to play with me next season?”

There seems to be a lot of revisionist history going on in the wake of Chandler Parsons’ departure north to Dallas. Many are saying that Parsons is actually overrated and that Trevor Ariza will be a better fit anyway. This is all summarized neatly by one article on BleacherReport that I felt compelled to respond to. “One could argue that Ariza is actually an upgrade at small forward.” The author is right, there are numbers that favor Ariza. But statistics without context do not do much good, so I decided to examine the evidence a little closer. What can I say? Chandler Parsons is one of my favorite players. Have to make an attempt to defend him.

To note:

-3 years younger does make a big difference

-Ariza has always played well in contract years (like last year) and then tailed off

-Nobody will argue that Ariza isn’t a better defender right now though

-Parsons is growing into being a B-level star while Ariza has plateaued as a solid role player

-You pay for the future, not for the past

-Parsons’ rebound numbers are lower because he played with glass-cleaning monsters like Dwight Howard and Omer Asik (less rebounds available)

-Parsons was more of a playmaker and able to lead the offense, shown by his higher assist numbers (vs. 2.5)

Now, here’s some interesting context to the stuff about Ariza’s shooting:

-A larger percentage of Ariza’s shots (2s and 3s) were assisted, which means he was set up for better looks by his teammates than Parsons was (59% vs. 53%). And Parsons still had the better field goal % (47.2% vs. 45.6%). Parsons can create his own shot.

-Ariza took way more of his shots from beyond the arc, called 3pt attempt rate (52% vs 35.6%). Shows that Parsons recognized his strengths and weaknesses, and tried to optimize his scoring chances.

-Parsons was not allowed to shoot 3s nearly as much as Ariza (4.5 vs 5.8 attempts per 36 minutes), so perhaps harder to get into a rhythm.

37% and 40.7% shooting from 3 are both not necessarily elite numbers (league-average last season being 36%)…The 10th best mark in the league was 42.4%, belonging to the great Stephen Curry.

-Ariza is a career 35% (read: league average) 3pt shooter, not the sniper he’s made out to be. It’s easier to argue that last year’s proficiency was actually an anomaly.


The bottom line that I’m trying to show is that Parsons is a better player than Ariza. Now that the numbers are in the proper context, Ariza doesn’t look as great as he was made out to be. Moreover Parsons is still continually improving whereas Ariza is not. Now, he does have his faults obviously, but to say Rockets’ won’t be affected at all? Dwight does sound like a bitter ex. 

Regardless, that’s not what Dwight should be worrying about. He should be more worried about not having Omer Asik to cover up for him when he gets into foul trouble often. He should be worried about not having Jeremy Lin as a point guard off the bench capable of leading the offense by himself. He should be worried that the Rockets gave up a valuable first round pick to the Lakers as the price for getting rid of Lin. Their depth has been gutted.

Of course, I’d like nothing more than to have to eat crow and see the Rockets flourish.

All numbers courtesy of ESPN Stats and Basketball-Reference


2 thoughts on “In Defense of Chandler Parsons

  1. The Rockets aren’t in need of a playmaker when they have James Harden and Dwight Howard, both of whom can efficiently and consistently create their own shots. What the Rockets do need is somebody who can make up for James Harden’s “defense” (if that’s what you want to call it). Somebody who can cover elite offensive perimeter players so they don’t repeat last year (leaving the best player on the opposing team wide open with Harden standing around and Parsons not keeping up). What they also need is a shooter to open up the floor. Ariza was successful on the catch and shoot off of John Wall/Marcin Gortat, which is the same roll he’ll have now only with James Harden/Dwight Howard. The fact that he shoots more 3s is a testament to Ariza knowing his role on the offense, and playing it with success. While Ariza isn’t a significantly better shooter than Parsons, and is certainly a worse offensive player, he doesn’t take much away from the offense, and adds on defense. The fact that Parson’s is a blossoming B-level star (where is your statistical context for that?), doesn’t mean he can contribute more than a high level 3 and D player like Ariza.

    Remember Dwight’s finals team? It was Dwight plus a bunch of catch and shoot 3 and D players. That’s what the Rockets are trying to build here, only with the addition of an elite offensive playmaker in James Harden. That’s why Dwight shouldn’t be worried about the loss of Parsons.

    • Parsons is the more consistently superior offensive player. What evidence is there to support Ariza as a “high-level” 3 and D guy though, outside of last season’s shooting numbers, which were a statistical aberration for him?

      Last year, Ariza produced 4.3 offensive win shares and 3.7 defensive win shares. Parsons produced 5.1 offensive win shares and 2.5 defensive win shares. Whereas both numbers for Parsons have improved each year, and should continue to do so, as his shooting and defense continue to improve, the OWS number was a massive anomaly for Ariza, and the DWS number was the second highest of his career. Dwight should be worried about Ariza’s regression, and how that compares to Parsons’ improvement.

      What the Rockets really needed was a defensively capable stretch 4, a la Rashard Lewis and Ryan Anderson, seeing as we’re looking at the Magic model.

      For the record, I think that replacing Parsons with Ariza was the right move from an economical standpoint. I just don’t agree with the revisionist history aspect of this. Parsons is a better player, yes. But he would have cost a lot more, and so Morey had to let him go. I can acknowledge that as the right move while still defending Parsons.

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