In the past five NBA Drafts, the No. 38 pick has been used on Jon Brockman, Quincy Miller, Chandler Parsons, Andy Rautins, and Nate Wolters. Excluding incoming rookie Wolters, Parsons is the only one who has proved to be worth much more than where he was drafted. Coming into his third season, it’s about time Parsons has the breakout season he has been working towards.
From the start of his professional basketball career, Parsons has made an impact on the Houston Rockets. As a rookie, he earned the starting small forward position nearly two weeks into the season, and would then average 9.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.2 steals.
In terms of shooting, Parsons shot 45.2% from the field, 33.7% from downtown and 55.1% on free throws. His free throw shooting is clearly horrible, but for a rookie taken with the 38th pick, it was clear that the Rockets got a steal with the 38th pick. Not only that, but he also dunked on Blake Griffin in his first year as well. Who else can say they’ve done that?
From there, Parsons would further improve his game and receive more playing time. He utilized the increase in minutes by averaging 15.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and one steal. His shooting percentage also increased. Parsons’s 48.6% from the field was sixth best in the league among small forwards, while his 38.5% for threes was good enough for 12th best. He also cracked the top ten in scoring for small forwards at nine and ranked 13th for rebounding.
To put Parsons’s quick improvements in another perspective, look at his ESPN NBA rank for the past three seasons. Before the lockout season of 2011-12, Parsons was No. 460 out of 500. It was a reasonable ranking for not only a rookie, but one who was selected No. 38 overall. Following his initial season, he made a tremendous leap to No. 152. To go up 308 spots in one season is insane. That is an insane jump. Now, the small forward is ranked No. 58 for the upcoming season.
Parsons has had potential from the start, and he has what it takes to become better. It’s what he has been showing everyone since he made it in the league. With both James Harden and Dwight Howard in the picture now, he will be able to show his improvements alongside them, as well as receive more scoring opportunities like this one. He knows he can be the third star the Rockets need.
“I don’t think there’s a better trio than us in the NBA. I want to make sure that I’m that third piece that can help us be that contending team,” Parsons said. “I worked on a lot of ball-handling especially now with him and Omer [Asik], there’s a lot of pick-and-rolls, which is huge on offense.
“I want to be able to handle the ball at 6’9”, 6’10”, get the defensive rebound, be able to push the fast break and I’m going to get a lot of open shots playing with those two guys. They’re going to get double-teamed all the time, so I’m definitely working on my jump shot and being more of a consistent three-point shooter.”
Parsons realizes the opportunities that both he and his teammates will have with the addition of Howard, and he’s doing the work to make those opportunities a reality. With that mindset, Parsons will not only be able to make himself better, but his teammates as well. He’s not only improving his skills though, he’s becoming stronger and more versatile.
“I added eight pounds. My jump shot feels good – I’ve been trying to work on getting it up into the air so it’s not as flat, especially when I get tired,” Parsons said. “Then I’ve also been trying to work on my low-post game. Probably 90 percent of the time guys are going to be smaller than me so if I get a chance to post somebody up off the block or face them up, I’ll do that.”
When Harden joined the Rockets right before the regular season began last year, it was all of the buzz, and he was quickly labeled as the best and most important played Houston had. Now history is somewhat repeating itself with the addition of Howard. However, with these two players, Parsons is being even more overlooked.
This isn’t to say that Harden and Howard aren’t worth the attention they are receiving, but Parsons should receive just as much attention. Indiana Pacer Paul George even admitted Parsons could be one of the most underrated players in the league.
In only his third season, Parsons has shown that he has what it takes to be good. He’s not the rookie who got awesome tip dunks anymore. Now, he has the confidence and supporting cast he needs to become even better and have a breakout season.