The Memphis Grizzlies were determined to go big game hunting in free agency this summer. Their prize was dynamic wing player, Chandler Parsons.
Four years. 94 million dollars.
That’s what the Memphis Grizzlies are betting on Chandler Parsons. The Grizzlies desperately needed shooting and play-making added to their roster this summer. They got a player that can do both in Parsons. His ability to score from the perimeter and to create for others gives the team an element that they have not had in the past.
The basketball fit seems to make sense on paper, but there is certainly some risk associated with this signing. Parsons’ history of injury is something that must worry Grizzlies fans, fans that have seen far too many injuries to their team in the last year.
But the gamble is one that the franchise felt that they needed to take. A play-maker on the wing is a piece that championship contending teams have, and could help to Grizzlies compete with the top-tier of the NBA if all goes well.
But will all go well? Let’s break down the expectations for the $94 million man.
2015-2016 Season Overview
2015-2016 Per Game Averages (With Dallas): 13.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 0.8 steals
2015-2016 Shooting Percentages: .492/.414/.684
Chandler Parsons was a key for the success of the Dallas Mavericks a year ago and when he went down with an injury, they were not the same team.
Parsons proved, as he has throughout his career, that he has a point-forward skill set that many tend to overlook. He served Dallas very well as a creator and knockdown shooter from the wing. His 41% mark from the outside is very good, and is an element that can really help the Grizz.
Parsons’ season with Dallas did not produce numbers that will jump off of the page, but he applied himself well on the wing and was a good compliment to Dirk Nowitzki for the Mavericks. His ability on the wing gave the Mavericks a dynamic that they had in no other player, and when he went down, they sorely missed his ability to make plays.
Parsons also did not really have a distinct role last season in Dallas, as the lack of good point guard play hurt him. In Houston, he benefited from having an effective primary ball-handler on offense in James Harden. Now being paired with Mike Conley, Parsons can take on his role as a secondary handler/play-maker.
While Parsons’ numbers weren’t crazy, he did have his most efficient season offensively. Shooting that close to 50% from the field is great for a wing player and his outside shot was the best that it has been in his career. In the time he played, one could argue that Parsons played the best basketball of his career last season.
You don’t give someone a max contract if you do not plan on giving them a big role.
Parsons, if healthy, will be the starting small forward for the Grizzlies and will be leaned on offensively. Along with being a knockdown shooter, Parsons’ handling ability will allow him to be the secondary ball-handler on offense, and maybe even be a primary ball handler while running with the second unit. This could allow Parsons to shine even more, as the Grizzlies’ backup point guards do not possess elite handling skills.
While his handling and play-making is valuable, Parsons will be leading the charge to try to fix Memphis’ dreadful perimeter shooting, where the team was second-to-last in the league in 3-point percentage. Parsons will look to build off of his 41% mark from downtown last season, and should get good shots on kick-outs from Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Defensively, Parsons is very average. He is not capable of locking up elite wings, but should benefit from playing with Tony Allen, who is more than willing of taking on those defensive assignments. Parsons should not be a total liability on defense, based on his career thus far.
Overall, Parsons’ role will be a big one. He will be either the second or third scoring option on an offense where he is, by far, the best shooter. Parsons should be able to blend in well in an offense that should give him plenty of opportunities.
Best Case Scenario for 2016-2017
Parsons’ ceiling with this team is fairly high, and he will certainly have the opportunity to play up to his max contract.
But Parsons’ best case scenario does require him to get healthy and stay healthy. If he can do so, he will get the opportunity to score and create at a high level. His handle makes him very dangerous in the pick-and-roll. With Gasol, Randolph, and Brandan Wright on the roster, Parsons will have partners in that scenario. Whether he attacks the basket, sets up one of the bigs for an easy score, or pulls up, Parsons has weapons that can be used in that situation.
Kick-outs are also something that will benefit Parsons. Gasol and Randolph figure to get plenty of post touches. But as opposed to years past, the Grizzlies now have a shooter than can make defenses pay for clamping down on the block. Parsons will get shots, it will just be his job to convert them.
If all goes well for Parsons, it is reasonable to expect him to have a great season. This Memphis team appears to be the one that fits him better than any other team he has been on, making 19-21 points per game, along with 5 boards and 4 assists is within reach for him this season.
Worst Case Scenario
The worst case scenario for Parsons involves him wearing the suit shown above, as opposed to a Memphis Grizzlies jersey.
Parsons’ right knee has hindered his ability to stay on the court for the past two seasons. He had surgery to repair a torn meniscus this off-season and is still healing up. He also only participated in non-contact drills to open training camp, creating cause for concern.
To add further worry, GM Chris Wallace feels it would be “premature” to put a timetable on Parsons’ return as well, per The Commercial Appeal. So far, Parsons’ prognosis is not looking promising.
From a basketball standpoint, Parsons seems primed for a big year in Memphis. But all of those dreams can die if the injury bug persists, making Parsons a very rich seat on the bench.
While Parsons’ talent is real, he is still a big question mark due to his injury history (and present).
Many will expect him to perform as the “Best Case Scenario” lays out, which is very possible when he is on the floor. His max contract carries the burden of expectation but I believe that this will work this year, the Grizzlies just need to be careful.
If Parsons has to miss the first 10, or so, games to get healthy, then so be it. Parsons is not the guy that you want to rush back onto the court. But if you get 70 games of the Chandler Parsons that played in the 14 games after the All-Star break last season pre-injury (17.6 points, 4.1 assists, and 1.3 steals per game), then that is a reasonable expectation for him this up-coming year.