The Mavs’ acquisition of Chandler Parsons on a three-year deal answers nearly every hole the team had left to fill at this point in the offseason.
Dallas had two key needs following the Tyson Chandler trade, and another opened up once former Mav Vince Carter signed with the Memphis Grizzlies, and Parsons fulfills all three. The Mavs were chasing a wing player who could shoot. Yep, Parsons, check. Dallas needed youth. Well, Parsons is only 25. Finally, Carter left behind a playmaking void after signing with Memphis, but Parsons solves that problem, too. Any way you slice it, the Parsons deal is a great move for both parties. The Mavs identified their man early on in free agency, and they got him. Here’s what the forward will bring with him.
Dallas lost its best three-point shooter, Jose Calderon, in the Chandler trade. Carter’s departure made the need for shooting even more dire. Fortunately, that’s where Parsons excels.
The Rockets have led the league in three-point attempts each of the past two seasons, as general manager Daryl Morey has built a team of sharpshooters around center Dwight Howard and slasher James Harden. Parsons was one of the team’s best gunners, shooting 38.5 percent on treys in 2012-13 and 37 percent last season on roughly five attempts per game both years. Almost 39 percent of his field goal attempts since 2012 have been from beyond the arc, but that’s absolutely fine; his 57.4 true shooting and 55.2 effective field goal percentages are nothing to scoff at. In fact, his eFG have been the highest among Mavericks forwards last season, and only Dirk Nowitzki’s ’13-14 true shooting percentage bested Parsons’ two-season average.
Chandler Parsons Photo Gallery
View a photo gallery of the Mavs’ new starting small forward Chandler Parsons
Of course, playing in Houston’s three-heavy offense, Parsons didn’t take many shots in those ranges. Only 30 percent of his attempts last season game from beyond three feet and inside the three-point line, meaning he was either dunking or shooting from downtown. Rick Carlisle’s offensive system calls for a higher volume of mid-range attempts than Kevin McHale’s, which means we might see more pull-ups from Parsons in years to come … not that there’s anything wrong with dunks and threes.
Parsons just enjoys sharing the ball. His assist rate has gone up each season of his career, meaning he’s assisted on a higher volume of his team’s baskets while he’s on the floor each season of his career. And while his usage rate increased a full point from 2012-13 to 2013-14, his turnover rate dipped a point, and his assist/turnover ratio improved from 1.8 to 2.1. Those are all very good signs for a player who has the ball in his hands as much as Parsons.
The Dallas offense also doesn’t feature a particularly high volume of corner three-pointers, either, unlike Houston’s. To a degree, that also plays to Parsons’s playing style. Just 21 percent of his long-range attempts came from the corner last season, according to Basketball-Reference, down from 31 percent the year before and nearly 38 percent his rookie season. Only two players on last year’s Mavs squad took more than 40 percent of their three-point attempts from the corner: Shawn Marion and Jae Crowder. For what it’s worth, Parsons shot eight percentage points better from that spot last season than did Marion. What the Mavs did excel at last season was catch-and-shoot three-pointers, and Parsons will fit right in. The new Mav shot higher than 41 percent on catch-and-shoot treys last season, per SportsVU, better than all Mavs except Calderon. Monta Ellis might just have found his new favorite target.
The Mavericks became significantly younger as soon as Houston declined to match the Dallas offer sheet for Parsons, a 25-year-old wing still in the growing stages of his career. Only three Mavs who played at least half the season for the 2013-14 club are younger than Parsons is right now. That matters moving forward. Why? It’s extremely rare to acquire young rising stars via free agency, yet the Mavs were able to do it. Most teams must either build through the draft or trade away proven veteran commodities to acquire young talent, but Dallas was able to snag a prospect from a division rival without giving up anything. Parsons is already one of the best players at his position in the Western Conference, and he’s just three seasons into his career. Dallas will have him for at least years four and five, but Parsons also has an option for the 2016-17 season. Add to that negotiating rights once he hits free agency again, and it seems like we could be seeing Parsons in a Mavs uniform for several years to come. That’s not a bad thing at all.
Chandler Parsons Phone Conference
Listen in as Chandler Parsons addresses the media after official signing a contract with the Mavericks
With youth also comes the ability to play heavy minutes. Carlisle openly admitted last season that he didn’t want to play Ellis and Dirk for as many minutes as he did, and he’ll likely say the exact same regarding Parsons, no matter how young he is. However, 25-year-olds recover much quicker than 30-year-olds or 35-year-olds, and they’re also much more able to handle the lengthy grind of a full NBA season. Parsons has missed just 17 games during his three-year career, and his minutes have gone up each season. It certainly is a luxury for a coach to have a player on whom he can rely to play 40 minutes the first night of a back-to-back in January with minimal consequence the next night. We’ve been spoiled the past five seasons by having the seemingly ageless Matrix in Dallas, a player who even at his age could play big-time minutes throughout a full year, but Parsons can do the same exact thing. And he’s a decade younger. And he’s only getting better.
The Mavs weren’t hurting for playmakers last season, and that was one of the keys to their near-upset of the first-seeded Spurs. However, both Calderon and Carter have new teams, meaning Dallas needed to restock in the role. Parsons is a perfect fit, as he has the ability to put the ball on the floor, attack the rim, and either finish himself or make the right pass to the right player.
It’s almost as if Parsons if a point guard in a small forward’s body. Per SportsVU, he created 9.5 points per game off of his career-high four assists per game last season, third-best on Houston and better than all but three Mavs: Ellis, Calderon, and Devin Harris. What’s more, one of every 10 Parsons passes last year resulted in an assist and 57 percent of his assist opportunities were converted into baskets, meaning he’s finding the right guys in the right places at the right time. Mavs fans might remember the terrific passing display Parsons put on during the Rockets’ Nov. 20 loss in Dallas, when the forward finished with 11 dimes, almost all of which either resulted in dunks or open three-pointers.
His impact on the Rockets’ offense was felt last season in several areas. Both Houston’s effective field goal and true shooting percentages were at their lowest when Parsons was on the bench and at their highest when he was on the floor, as both dipped more than 2.5 points below the team average when he was off the floor — a byproduct not only of his shooting but also his ability to share the ball.
And because he’s such a good facilitator, Parsons allows Carlisle to play only one ball-handler beside him. Parsons and one other guard can take care of the handling duties while Monta Ellis grabs a quick rest, something that wasn’t always feasible last season. Similarly, the Mavs will have the freedom to go big by sliding Ellis to the point guard spot using Crowder as the two-guard. Crowder has developed into a good spot-up shooter and can act as a viable target for both Ellis and Parsons alongside Nowitzki and Chandler, Brandan Wright, or another Mavs big.
On the flip side, Parsons could be used as a ballhandling stretch four in a small lineup with, for example, Ellis, Harris, Crowder, and Wright, which would create all sorts of mismatches for the opponent. If Parsons was just a good shooter, the mismatch wouldn’t be as dangerous. However, because he’s essentially capable of running an offense, an otherwise innocuous matchup becomes absolutely lethal.
Parsons fills most holes left and then some, and he gives Carlisle an entirely unique weapon to deploy. Suffice it to say he’s about as perfect a fit for the offense as you can be. And he’s only 25.