With the most eligible bachelor in the NBA headed to the fields of Mark Cuban gold in Dallas, the Mavericks have taken another step towards constructing their lineup for the 2014-15 season.
Parsons’ story is well known for NBA fans. He was a leader on a successful Florida team, coached by Billy Donovan, and selected by the Houston Rockets in the second round. At the end of his rookie contract, the Rockets decided to allow him to become a restricted free agent, a choice that gave him the freedom to sign an offer sheet from any team in the league. When the Rockets fellow Southwest Division foe Dallas pitched him an offer of 3 years/$46 million, Parsons decided, “Hey, that’s a lot of money and I suddenly feel like playing for Dallas.” Houston didn’t match, and now Parsons is part of the MFFL family.
Debate the wisdom of signing Parsons to that many dollars per year all you want. The flip side of the coin is that he’s a part of their lineup, and what is he going to do to help the Mavericks make the playoffs again and possibly advance beyond the first round.
Shawn Marion and his Messianic tolerance for pain are likely on the way out. He’ll be 36 years old next year, in his sixteenth season, and at some point, veterans start to just not be able to do everything they used to do. Don’t believe me, page Shane Battier at ESPN for further insight.
Marion was a key part in the Mavericks rotation last season, starting 76 games and playing over 2400 minutes. He was primarily a spot-up shooter or found scoring opportunities off of cuts, per Synergy statistics. On spot-up shooting attempts, Marion averaged 0.91 points per possession, scoring 33.6 percent of the time. When he was able to take advantage of defensive breakdowns initiated by the offense and cut to the rim, Marion averaged 1.07 points per possession, scoring 54 percent of the time.
On defense, the Matrix allowed his man to score 41.5 percent of the time per Synergy statistics. He very nearly finished with 500 rebounds (497) and collected 90 steals on the season. While those numbers aren’t bad, they were below his career averages. In fact, Marion’s per game averages were lower across the board then his career averages. Again, time remains undefeated, and the scoreboard doesn’t lie.
While Parsons may not have the resume Marion has, he does have one thing Marion probably never dreamed about having: Pinterest boards, clothing sponsorships and photo shoots with supermodels. Wait, basketball reasons? Oh right.
The Houston Rockets system impacted Parsons statistics last season. With McHale urging his team to push the ball in transition, push the ball to the rim, and shoot from the perimeter (NOT MID-RANGE THO) Parsons wasn’t shooting 16-foot jumpers for 70 games. He’ll be 26 years old for his fourth season, and with an invitation to tryout for the USAB team, he’s recognized as a young, talented player who can bring it on both ends of the floor.
As the third little engine that could in the Rockets offense last season, Parsons had his fair share of possessions on offense, setting a new career-high in usage rate. Nearly 30 percent of his scoring opportunities came on spot-up shooting attempts, and he averaged 1.07 points per possession, scoring 44.1 percent of the time. Parsons second-highest scoring possessions came in transition, followed by possessions as the ball handler in pick and roll plays. When running the pick and roll, something he found himself doing 16.1 percent of the time, Parsons averaged 0.79 points per possession, scoring 38.1 percent of the time. What held him back in that area were turnovers, and Parsons did that frequently, with 11.6 percent of pick and roll plays as the ball handler ending up with the other team taking the ball down the court courtesy of Mr. Parsons.
On defense, the Rockets as a whole were kind of meh, but it’s hard to lay blame on Parsons without bringing up the team factor. When you’re switching off with James Harden for an entire season, your numbers might not look great – and Parsons’ do not. Overall, Parsons’ allowed opponents to average 0.88 points per possession against him. That’s a better number than Marion, and a promising one for the system Parsons will be entering. With another defensive center behind him in Tyson Chandler (if healthy) and an opportunity to play with Raymond Felton, Dirk Nowitzki and Monte Ellis (oh, can’t stop laughing) … he may actually be counted on to put forward more effort on defense. He’ll have to defend some talented wings in the Western Conference, and he may get a few reminders from his days of practicing against James Harden on how difficult it is to stop the All-Star guard.
In sum, the Mavericks are getting a talented, young player at the wing position. Jae Crowder can still serve in the backup role, and Parsons can help stretch the floor, move the ball, and mark opposing wings. After losing out on Carmelo and Chris Bosh, the Mavericks again are the pretty girl with a purse full of money but no date to the prom. They still have holes to fill on their roster, and they better pick up any table scraps before Ray Felton eats them. With Rick Carlisle and the Dunking Deutschman back for another season, it’s hard to see them not competing for the playoffs once again.