The Rockets Daily – September 4, 2013

A Unified Theory of Chandler Parsons: Follow Up – My ideas earlier this week on the keys to Parsons’ success provoked some spirited discussion, particularly on the subject of Parsons’ ceiling. The conclusion that Parsons has reached his ceiling was not one I am happy to reach, but I felt it flowed naturally from the premise that Parsons succeeds because he makes the best decisions. Before elaborating on that point, I will qualify it by saying that it is not impossible for Parsons to improve, but the path upward for him is more difficult than for many other young players.

To support this point, I’ll refer you to the work of Kirk Goldsberry at Grantland, the crown prince of shot charts. Goldsberry presents Parsons’ shot chart, and remarks that “like Harden, he hates midrange shots, possessing a video-game-shot chart: all 3s, layups, and dunks. His 3-point shooting efficiency is highly spatially dependent: He’s great from the corners, but pretty bad from the wings.” I would argue that one of the quickest ways for a skilled player to improve his output is for him to start shooting more efficient shots (some of this is dependent on the coach’s play-calling). Parsons already has perhaps the most efficient shot selection in the league. If he is going to improve, it will be through the hard slogging of continued skill development. Parsons has shown ability to improve his  basic skill set, with his boost in free throw percentage from 55 to 72 percent standing out as a perfect example.

One more glimmer of hope for Parsons: he averaged about 18 ppg with a ridiculous (for a wing) 51.7 percent shooting after the All-Star break, while sliding a bit on rebounds and assists. That may have been the result of possibly unsustainable 43 percent three-point shooting, or it may be a solid reflection of what to expect from him going forward. If Parsons produces at that level throughout his career, then I feel more confident in saying he has hit his ceiling, because that is where–based only on emotion and eye test–I feel like his ceiling should be.

What To Expect When You’re Expecting – I was trying to find a video of Dwight Howard’s top career plays that was posted on earlier this week, when I came across this video from about a month ago of Chris Webber analyzing Howard’s fit in Houston.

Webber gets going on how, based on comments Kevin McHale made during his broadcasting days, he thinks McHale will have Howard making a lot more rim runs than post ups. Then he gives some insight from his playing days:

I tell you what, I’ve tried to stop Dwight when all he does is run and turn around. I’ve tried to stop Shaq and guys with that type of body mass. And if (Howard) runs hard the way that they run the ball, you know, to me he can average 25 points easily without plays being called for him.

Also, the way Webber describes what James Harden does to the big man defending the pick-and-roll will make you very excited for October 30th.

Oh, and I did find that video of Howard’s top career plays. All but one of them involved either a block or an off-ball cut. Just one involves a post move, but to be fair to Dwight, it was a move that few big men can pull off. Most of them involve alley-oops that even Greg Smith can’t pull off when he’s daydreaming.

The Holy Hand-Grenade – Lets face it, only a select few teams have the weapons to knock the Heat off track for a third championship. In David Thorpe’s latest ESPN Insider article, he examines what it would take to beat LeBron and Co. In his first installment, he said it would take rim protection and elite 3-point shooting (check and check for the Rockets). This time he said it would also take superstar talent (Dwight and James, raise your hands. There you are. Good.) and elite defense. The second part is where Houston may be weighed in the balances and found lacking. Thorpe writes:

Houston should improve due to Howard’s presence inside, although the Rockets’ youth will limit how well they defend certain aspects of the game, such as the pick-and-roll.

Houston has the weapons to be contenders this year, but it may take some time before those weapons can be properly deployed.

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About the author: John Eby got on the Rockets bandwagon in 1994 and never got off. He is a public relations guy and recovering TV journalist living in South Carolina.

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The Rockets Daily – September 2, 2013