Diving into Chandler Parsons’ career stats and what it means for Memphis

Mar 20, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee (5) guards Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Mavericks 112-101. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Memphis Grizzlies guard Courtney Lee (5) guards Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) during the game at the American Airlines Center. The Grizzlies defeated the Mavericks 112-101. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Everyone knows the numbers of Chandler Parsons’ hefty payday, but what do his on-court numbers bring to the Memphis Grizzlies?

The Memphis Grizzlies big player move in the 2016 offseason, besides re-signing point guard Mike Conley, was Chandler Parsons to a 4-year, $94 million contract. But just who is Chandler Parsons from a statistic point of view, and how can he help the Grizzlies?

Lets start with this, Chandler Parsons is efficient. In five seasons in the NBA, he has never had a field goal percentage lower than 45 percent, with his highest coming last year when he shot 49.2 percent and his lowest coming his rookie year in 2011-2012 when he shot 45.2 percent. However, he attempted his fewest shots per game since his rookie year when he shot the ball only 320 times. Chandler also averaged his lowest points per game total since the aforementioned rookie year with 13.7 points per game. Taking a look at the three years in between, it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

  • 2012-2013 (HOU): 15.5 ppg 3.5 ast 5.3 reb (48.6 FG% 38.5% from 3, 72.9 FT%), 76 games
  • 2013-2014 (HOU): 16.6 ppg 4.0 ast 5.5 reb (47.2 FG% 37.0% from 3, 74.2 FT%), 72 games
  • 2014-2015 (HOU): 15.7 ppg 2.4 ast 4.9 reb (46.2 FG% 38.0% from 3, 72.0 FT%), 66 games
  • 2015-2016 (DAL): 13.7 ppg 2.8 ast 4.7 reb (49.2 FG% 41.4% from 3, 68.4 FT%), 61 games

Everything was going strong for Parsons following his rookie year. He improved his points per game output by six points, took almost twice as many 3s and improved his percentage from deep by five points and to top it off, he played in 76 games as a member of the starting lineup.

The Florida graduate also once again started in every game he played, attempted the most field goals per-game in a single season at 13.3, and had his highest free throw percentage to date at 74.2 percent.

However, following his departure from Houston, Parsons started to decline. He played in his least games since his rookie year and his stats dipped across the board (except for a slight uptick in three-point percentage) and on March 25, 2015 he underwent knee surgery to repair a torn right meniscus.

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The following year was a struggle for Parsons, he averaged his lowest points per game since his rookie year. But he did shoot the rock at his highest percentage in his career from both two and three-point land in just 61 games played. However, Parsons also shot the ball the fewest number of times in a single season in his career since his rookie year (651 shots, 251 from deep). Basically last year can be considered a wash for Parsons since he was coming off a serious knee injury right? Well, yes and no.

Parsons had his highest PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of his career during his first year in Dallas at 16.3 and maintained that figure last season. But, he also had his lowest BPM at 1.9 since his rookie year. So offensively, Parsons has looked like a potential perennial 15 and 5 guy when he’s healthy and involved in the offense. Leaving Houston actually had a relatively small impact on his DRtg and ORtg  (112 and 107 in Houston ,111 and 108 in Dallas), so it can be said that Parsons is relatively the same player he was in Houston, he was just unhealthy and a bit unlucky in Dallas.

Comparing some of his statistics from last season with the rest of the NBA small forwards is actually intriguing. Remember that this is a position that has LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Carmelo Anthony among the position’s ranks. According to espn.com, Chandler Parsons ranked 13th in scoring, despite playing in less games than everyone ranked in front of him. He slotted in tied for 22nd with Jerami Grant in rebounding, tied for 9th with Kobe Bryant in assists, and ranked fourth in 3-point shooting.

This was all in just 61 games but that is some impressive statistics with some impressive company. Digging deeper into his statistics from last year, his offensive rating was a solid 105.4 and his defensive rating was 104.2. Pre-All Star Break was a struggle for Chandler, he had a negative net rating of -0.3 and a PIE (Player Impact Estimate) of just 10.7. Both of those numbers jumped to 5.5 and 13.6 respectively Post-All Star albeit in just 19 games before he was shut down.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

What Parsons will bring to Memphis is hopefully a solid second or third scoring option to go along with Marc Gasol and Mike Conley. But the one area that Memphis really hopes he will help them improve on his 3-point shooting. Memphis ranked second to last in three point shooting percentage last year, ahead of only the Los Angeles Lakers. According to basketballreference.com, horrifyingly, nobody on the Grizzlies shot over 40 percent from deep. Nobody. The player who had the highest percentage from deep on the Grizzlies was Courtney Lee at 37 percent.

Parsons will also be counted upon to bring his regular solid defense to the table but if he has a bad year, he can be hidden among the Grizzlies’ great defenders such as Tony Allen and Gasol.

Speaking of Parsons defensively, comparing his defensive rating to several starting small forwards brings some surprising observations. According to NBA.com, LeBron James had a 101.4 compared to Parson’s 104.2. Kevin Durant checked in at 102.2, and perhaps the best defensive Small Forward in the league in Kawhi Leonard had a stellar 94.9 defensive rating. So, while Parsons obviously cannot compare to Leonard, in an injury-plagued year he was still within five points of James and Durant. Now James hasn’t lost a step and while Durant is not revered defensively, he is still solid and if the Grizzlies want to truly make some noise in the Western Conference, Parsons is going to have to step up against arguably the two best forwards in the game.

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So who is Chandler Parsons and just what are the Grizzlies getting?

If Parsons can stay healthy, there is no reason to believe he cannot match his best statistical output in Houston on a team that featured the trigger happy James Harden and Dwight Howard who HAD to be involved to ensure happiness. There is no reason to believe Parsons can’t be a very useful supporting scorer on a team desperate for someone to put the ball in the basket. In fact, after his departure from Houston, Parsons was quoted on the “Jay Mohr Sports” on Fox Sports Radio saying:

"“That’s a pretty ridiculous statement if he meant that, that’s part of the reason I wanted to go to Dallas, because I’m ready for that next step. I’m ready for a bigger role, and I’m ready for more leadership.”"

That wasn’t able to happen in Dallas, but Memphis will find out soon enough.