The Rockets Daily – January 27, 2014

Meet and Greet – Before last Friday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, GM Daryl Morey met with season ticket holders for a Q&A discussion.  As has become his calling card, Morey was open and honest (and a little bit humorous) when discussing a wide range of topics including Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons and Royce White.

“We pushed to trade Omer in December. We felt we had to make a fair and aggressive effort to do that. Obviously, he’d prefer to be a starter. At this point, Omer is very likely going to be here until the end of his contract at the end of next season, not this season. The window to trade him was (in December), and teams weren’t aggressive enough to get him, so we’re excited about him being a part of our future.”

The whole discussion is really worth a read.  Morey is very open and funny when discussing what a bust Royce White was as a first round pick, and he gives a little insight to what the team is considering in regards to Chandler Parsons’ upcoming huge payday.  It’s also telling about the way Morey does business in that even when having such an open discussion with fans, one thing that he did refuse to comment on was a possible trade involving Rajon Rondo.

As for the above quote, we’ve discussed Asik ad nauseam to this point, and whether or not his cap number could be better allocated somewhere else on the roster has become a moot point.  The saying is that it only takes one, so things may still change by the trade deadline this February or even this summer, but it appears Asik’s value has slipped enough that Morey feels it behooves the team to keep him as opposed to trading him for pennies on the dollar.  And multiple bits of research has shown his value to this team even at only 18 minutes per game, so I’m fine with him remaining a Rocket.  Now if someone would just explain all this to Omer, please.

Parsons v Hayward – Last week when USA Basketball released its selections for the pool of players to be chosen from for the next three summers, I made the case that Chandler Parsons may have been more deserving than some of the players picked over him.  While I concentrated on Deron Williams and Kenneth Faried, the discussion in the forum for that article centered on Gordon Hayward.  More specifically, what the two players’ production and efficiency would be if their roles were reversed and Hayward got to play alongside two superstars, while Parsons was required to carry an offense short on talent.     

First off, Parsons and Hayward are fairly similar players in both build and production.  Parsons is an inch taller and has a few pounds on Hayward, and is slightly more explosive, but neither players’ athleticism leaps off the screen.  Parsons is the much more efficient player, but Hayward has posted similar production to Parsons in the past when he wasn’t on a team making such a blatant attempt to land a top pick in the upcoming draft.  Even with his current teammates, however, Hayward’s PER is still slightly higher at 17.36 compared to Parsons’ 17.00.  Also, Hayward is a much better free throw shooter and after the worst shooting slump of his four-year career, he is shooting almost 60% from behind the arc in the month of January, maybe as a result of getting accustomed to playing alongside rookie point guard Trey Burke.

Despite such similar production in the box scores, I decided to dig a little deeper and see what kind of a player Parsons was when he wasn’t on the floor with James Harden and Dwight Howard, using my new favorite tool NBAwowy.  Wowy provides “advanced stats for your favorite NBA team with any combination of players on or off the court”.  While I can’t figure how productive Hayward would be playing with studs like Harden and Howard, I can find numbers for Parsons in a lesser, more equal lineup.  With Omer Asik missing so much time, and the general health of the Rockets overall, removing Harden and Howard from the Hair’s side felt like a fair balance of talent for the comparison, if not even tilting it in Hayward’s favor.  The results were not what I expected.  If you’re not a total basketball nerd familiar with what exactly these metrics indicate, this may help you better understand.

Parsons w/ H&H
945 1876 95.3 350 403 46.7 54.4 57.6 18.4 1.17 1.15
Parsons w/o H&H 149 304 97.7 62 80 57.9 64.0 65.0 22.0 1.19 1.30
Hayward 1369 2623 91.9 624 653 41.7 45.8 51.4 24.3 1.00 1.03

Keep in mind that the time Parsons has spent on the court without both Howard and Harden this season leads to a small sample size, but nevertheless the numbers are impressive; his efficiency improves in every area (some drastically) without the lead-men.  And both sets of numbers were well over Hayward’s production.  If you add Omri Casspi into the star-less lineup with Parsons, the numbers improve even more (it helps if you organize the columns by minutes), with Casspi’s production almost identical to Parsons.  And with a sample size so small (only 35 minutes), it’s almost not even worth mentioning what a lineup built around Parsons, Casspi and Omer Asik looks like, until you see the astronomical numbers those three put up together, and then it’s definitely worth mentioning.  With McHale playing Harden and Howard the entire first quarter these days, and Parsons spearheading the bench-unit at the start of the second quarter, Asik cannot get back soon enough to build on those glorious 35 minutes.  Suck it up, big man.

I don’t know how far all this goes towards solving who was more deserving of an invite to basketball’s most elite summer camp, but it sure seems to me like Parsons deserved more of a look.  And he may not be one of the league’s elite like his more-famous teammates, but Chandler Parsons rides the coattails (or beard) of no man.

Not A Happy Camper – After delving into the matter so extensively in the above segment, it’s really not difficult to understand why Chandler Parsons is so upset about being left off the Team USA roster-pool.  Like, so upset.

“I’m going to use that the rest of my career,” Parsons said. “I’m not surprised. I’ve been overshadowed, overlooked my whole life. I was very frustrated. A life dream of mine is to play on that team. I deserved to be on that team. I played well in the camp. My game, my versatility, I feel like I’d be perfect for that system. I was upset. I still am upset. I think it’s a joke I’m not on there. Maybe next time.

Bill Simmons once remarked while watching the Men’s Olympic team win gold at the London Games how noticeable it was that three Thunder players were on the team; he said that it stood out glaringly.  So I understand if that played a part in him not making it.  But that doesn’t make it right and it doesn’t mean anyone has to be happy about it, least of all him.

Develop This – This weekend Isaiah Canaan scored 34 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds in a win over the D-League’s Austin Torros.  He also had a couple big dunks in the victory.  In his last three games, Canaan is averaging 28 ppg on 47% FG and 35% 3pt, with 6.3 apg and 5.7 rpg.  With the way Terrence Jones has played this year after dominating the D-League last year, that kind of production can’t (shouldn’t) be ignored.


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