The Indespensible Man – Amin Elhassan (ESPN Insider) listed off six pivotal players in the league through the final month of the season, and he had fascinating insight into Chandler Parson’s emerging offensive role:
By the time the playoffs roll around, Parsons probably will have worked his way off this list and onto the “No. 2 option” on most opponent scouting reports. When I scouted Parsons at Florida, I was always impressed with his playmaking ability at his size, but worried about his perimeter shooting and his penchant for sometimes lacking aggression offensively despite his gifts.
However, in Houston, he has pretty much answered those questions, shooting better than 38 percent from 3-point range and attempting more than 12 field goals per game. He provides the perfect complement for Houston’s offense, which centers heavily around the dribble penetrations of Harden and Jeremy Lin, as Parsons not only can space the floor effectively but can also put the ball on the floor and make plays off the dribble. His USG% probably will climb and crack 20 percent (he’s at as much as 18.1 now) by the time the playoffs come, as opposing defenses will be so keyed into stopping Harden and Lin that they will have to concede to one-on-one coverage on Parsons on the wing. Going against third-option perimeter defenders will make it necessary for him to take a larger share of the offensive burden.
Parsons is an extremely effective player off the catch, but he’s virtually never a guy you see breaking down his man in isolation. Which leads me to this question: how much of Parson’s improvement this year has been the result of his skill development, and how much of it has been the result of playing next to playmakers like Harden and Lin?
Trinity – At this moment, there are three players with a claim on being the best shooting guard in the NBA–Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade and James Harden. The Dream Shake does an admirable job breaking down the triumvirate’s stats to see who wins, and it gets hairy for the Beard when defense comes up:
Looking at the stats from mySynergySports, the reputations tend to hold true. Overall, Harden ranks last among the trio with .93 PPP (points per possession) allowed to his man, ranking him 329 in the league. Kobe and Wade, with .84 and .79 PPP allowed respectively, rank much higher.
Many of Harden’s problems come from spot-up shooters, where he allows 1.08 PPP, 8% worse than Kobe’s mark on spot-ups and 30% worse than Wade’s. With his inability to put a hand up to contest jumpers, Harden is hurting the Rockets and not helping his cause to be the top shooting guard in the league.
Writer Patrick Harrel concludes that Harden is still the best because he carries the most responsibility for his team. I was inclined to agree until I looked at Wade’s pre-LeBron stats. He posted insane PER’s of 30.46 and 28.10 in the two years before the King arrived in Miami, so it’s hard to argue that LeBron has inflated Wade’s efficiency.
While Harden has far superior shooting range and an unmatched ability to draw fouls, Wade is a demon on defense–a 6’4″ player with go-go-gadget arms who is a nightmare to shoot over. I’d still give Wade the nod for about another year.
(If you’re offended that I dismissed Kobe from this discussion, just read Zach Lowe’s letter.)
Tweet That: Sabbatical Edition – It’s an interesting phenomenon among the Rockets’ players that when the chips are down on the basketball court, or when it seems they need to focus more on the game, the first thing they do is stop tweeting.
Take Donatas Motiejunas, for example. His last tweet came on March 10, immediately after the loss to Phoenix:
“I play like **** nothing else to say. But tomorrow is a new day.”
Thomas Robinson’s Twitter fasting has lasted since February 13, while he was languishing in Sacramento, and he retweeted Josh Selby:
If Robinson were to retweet that today, it would still seem relevant.
But the winner of the Twitter Sabbatical Championship has to be Omer Asik, whose last, somber tweet came all the way back on November 25:
The truth is, once you’ve said that, it can be a long time until something seems significant or appropriate enough to follow it with. Asik has a reputation for choosing his words carefully, and he has worked hard to gain McHale’s respect this year, earning his coach’s praise over and over again.
We learn a lot about our celebrities by what they say in 140-character snippets, but sometimes they say more through silence.
Got any sweet links or suggestions? Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or message John Eby on Twitter @Ebynews.