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Is Chandler Parsons a Liability?

Memphis is struggling to find consistency.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Sacramento Kings Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

My Dad told me that, late in his career, former soccer star Johan Cruyff only performed well in televised and/or big games. He would hide behind the defenders and not ask for the ball. It probably had to do with the fact that he wanted to preserve himself from contact and injuries.

In the same vein, Memphis has been reasonably good when playing against the top teams this season. However, they have shown a lack of effort and focus when facing weaker opponents.

Consistency has been an issue for Memphis throughout the season. Victories against the Warriors (twice), the Rockets (twice), and the Cavaliers have been overshadowed by losses against the struggling Heat, the depleted Clippers, the plummeting Lakers, or the Wade-less Bulls.

The Grizzlies have dropped way too many games against supposedly subpar teams. Energy and aggressiveness have been missed in several games this season, especially during the first half.

Why Can't the Grizzlies Get Off a Great Start?

The start of games has become worrisome and irritating recently. Do you remember when the team used to struggle in third quarters last season? Disastrous first halves are the new normal in Memphis Grizzlies basketball.

It’s unreasonable to think that Memphis can always neutralize double digit leads in the second halves of games. Just because they had two memorable comeback wins on the road against Golden State and Houston does not mean that it’s going to happen every time.

Coming back from behind also requires a huge effort on both ends of the floor that likely wears out key players. Considering that Mike Conley and Marc Gasol both had season ending injuries last year, their minutes have to be carefully managed. Conley averages 32.3 minutes a game and Gasol 34.2.

Playing games down to the wire is also energy-consuming. No other team in the NBA has played as many tight games as Memphis this season. They are 16-8 when the point difference is three or less in the last three minutes of the game.

Even if the team has succeeded in many of them, the outcome of those games can go either way. The Grizzlies should dominate games especially against weaker opponents and build significant leads early, something they have hardly ever done this season, in order to rest their stars more often.

Is Chandler Parsons a Liability?

Some are starting to think that Chandler Parsons is a liability, especially considering that the team struggles during the first halves, when he spends most of his time on the floor.

Parsons has missed 26 games this season due to knee injuries. He has played every game under a minutes restriction and sits out on the second night of back-to-backs. His 17.9 minutes a game are mostly distributed during the first half so that he can get in rhythm somehow.

At the moment, Parsons averages 6.3 points a game, 36.7 percent from the field and 24.5 percent from the beyond the arc, all career-lows. He looks slow and uncomfortable on the floor, even if he is gradually trying to be more aggressive on both ends. His shot does not look right and he is not able to blow by opponents yet.

Memphis with Parsons
11 wins, 7 losses
103.6 points a game
100.1 opponent points

Memphis without Parsons
14 wins, 12 losses
97 points a game
98.1 opponent points

On/off court

With Parsons on the floor 103.8 106.9 -3.1 -2.5
With Parsons off the floor 102.2 101.2 1 0.9

There are some signs that indicate that the Grizzlies are better off without Parsons on the floor. They benefit offensively, but at the same time, the team suffers more on the defensive end.

It goes without saying that Parsons is still in a recovery process. He is getting in shape and, if his knees get healthy, he should be a major weapon for the Grizzlies heading towards the playoffs.

Patience is running out for some in the community of Grizzlies fans, but Memphis will not be near the contender conversation if Parsons cannot strongly contribute. He is undoubtedly a very good basketball player, but needs his legs back in order to deliver and become a real X factor.

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