After an early season game, Rick Carlisle mentioned that by the time the All-Star break rolls around, Chandler Parsons should be one of the best young players in the league. Parsons’ performance has fluctuated quite a bit, but as the All-Star break approaches, Parsons might be closer to Carlisle’s vision than we realize.
Dallas is no longer the pick-and-roll death machine they were in the early goings of the season; they only have a 103 offensive rating since the Rondo trade. Dirk has shaken off his recent slump and Monta will always have it all, but Parsons remains as the X-factor for this team. When he scores 17 or more points the Mavs are 14-2 this season.
Much like the stable of guards on the roster, Parsons is an attacker. He’s a capable catch-and-shoot player, but he thrives when he catches the ball and attacks as the defense is shifting. This season, 38 percent of Parsons' offense comes when he's spotting up; that’s an eight percent increase from last season, per Synergy Sports. Parsons spends far too much time relegated to standing in the corner as a spot up guy. Whether that’s a product of the system or by his own volition is up for debate. Nonetheless, Parsons’s primary role as a catch-and-shoot player is a large reason why he disappears for so many games. Last year, Parsons had the ball for 2.2 minutes a game, but this year he is down to only 1.7 minutes game, per NBA.com.
When Parsons does have the ball in his hands, he’s an excellent player. Parsons scores 1.03 points per possession when he’s the pick-and-roll ballhandler. That’s first among players who have run more than 100 pick and rolls this season, per Synergy. The Mavs pick-and-roll friendly ecosystem creates more advantageous situations for attacking players than any other place in the league, and Parsons has used those opportunities to the fullest.
Unlike Monta, defenders choose to go over screens against Parsons because he can be a lethal shooting threat and is less likely to blow by the big man for a layup. Parsons excels in navigating the space between the screener and the sagging big. Instead of attacking the big, he’ll make a couple horizontal dribbles to shoot a short jumper or give the big a chance to run at the rim for the lob. The pull up jumper is a potent weapon for Parsons. He ranks in the 93rd percentile on pull up jumpers out of the pick and roll, per Synergy.
Parsons' pump fake of death deceives defenders even more when he uses it off the dribble. Defenders have every right to be fearful, because Parsons ranks in the 94th percentile in jumpers off the dribble in half court situations, per Synergy. He’d be wise to add Dwyane Wade’s off the dribble pump fake into his arsenal. I know we don’t think of Parsons as a shot creator off the dribble, but he’s excelled when he’s had these opportunities and should be given more opportunities. Redistributing some of Harris’ and Barea’s pick and rolls towards Parsons would be a boost to the offense.
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Conversely, Parsons struggle shooting off screens. He rates as a below average in this area at only .731 points per possessions. Here’s where Parsons herky-jerky shot motion may affect him. The Mavs have a pin-down play they run mostly for Dirk, but occasionally it’s run for Parsons. When a player comes off a pin down screen, they’re moving away from the basket. Parsons has a natural fade to his jumper and it’s exaggerated when he runs off these kinds of screens. He’d be better suited to shoot catching the ball on a curl where his momentum is taking him towards the basket.
The runner was once a dear friend of Parsons’ in Houston, but it has forsaken him since his arrival in Dallas. Last season, Parsons ranked in the 88th percentile on runners at 1.05 points per possession, but has fallen to the 44th percentile this year on only 0.76 points per possessions per Synergy. Parsons’ move from Houston to Dallas has affected this aspect of his game more than any other. In Houston, Parsons got much cleaner looks on his floaters in Houston and he shot them mostly from directly in front of the rim. In Dallas, Parsons floaters are more contested. This is the one area where Parsons forces shots. As he acclimates more to the offense, he should have a better understanding of when to take those shots and where the help is coming from.
The Mavs need to drive Parsons like he’s a stick shift and not an automatic. With some ball handling redistribution and an uptick in his finishing around the rim, Parsons could be the all-star player Carlisle envisioned.