Forum moderator John Gold had an interesting take last week in response to my thoughts on a proposed Carmelo Anthony deal to the Rockets. He says that while the conventional wisdom dictates that the team would most likely include budding power forward Terrence Jones in an Anthony deal (along with Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin), the Rockets would be wise to include critically acclaimed supermodel Chandler Parsons in lieu of Jones.
While I disagree with Gold’s take that Jones’ upside is higher than Parsons’, I would have to agree with his overall thesis regarding Parsons’ worth, a belief I’ve been forming since late last season.
First, on Jones: I’m not as high on him as most seem to be. To wit, he’s been marvelous in filling the role he’s been asked to fill. But as I’ve said numerous times, I don’t trust him in a playoff series against the big boys, and when I look at him, I don’t see the budding All-Star everyone else sees. He doesn’t have the elite indicators you’d look for in a young player to prognosticate high level growth. He’s average athletically (what makes him look so above-average in this department, at times, is above average length. Watch him fail to get anything around the rim against the likes of Ibaka and you’ll realize his weaknesses), has dreadful form on his jumpshot, and makes all of his moves as the result of muscle memory motion.* (More on this below.) In fact, his best chance at taking his game to another level is re-working the mechanics on his jumpshot so that he can be dependable from anywhere a la Carl Landry. Unfortunately, it’s very rare for an NBA player to put in that kind of effort. (Players work on their shots, sure, but it’s a rare thing to change form. ) What has made Jones such a revelation this season is his ability to fill in the gaps: he runs the floor hard, cuts hard, and has good hands; he’s the perfect role player to fill the open spaces created by the massive presence of Dwight Howard. When those things are taken away, because he has little in a vacuum, he struggles against the big boys.
*Next time you’re playing pick-up, unless its at a ridiculously high level, notice that 99% of the guys do some of the same moves every time, regardless of the situation. Everyone has a pet move they do, and they’ve done it so many times it’s become second nature. The problem is when you do that some motion every single time. It indicates that that player is not really thinking but just acting involuntarily. That’s the case with Terrence Jones and that crossover. When he’s on the perimeter, he’s going to just bust out that same crossover dribble, regardless of the second line of defense. (A fascinating point Steve Nash made in the recent Bill Simmons podcast was that he felt Amare didn’t really make the big leap until he started reading the second line of defense later in his career, because he had never learned how to play the game properly growing up. Jones can learn too but Amare is one of the hardest working athletes in the NBA and was also in the top 1% athletically…) Now watch James Harden, or any point guard. They make moves with their mind, not their muscle memory. They do different things based on different situations. I digress: this post was supposed to be about Chandler Parsons.