Houston is hosting this year’s All-Star Game on Feb. 17, and don’t be surprised if its former Gator is a representative.
While James Harden and Jeremy Lin continue to get more national attention, Chandler Parsons continues to make headlines in Clutch City. Parsons, a second-team All-Rookie selection last season, is on the All-Star ballot this season as he’s taken his game to another level.
The Rockets’ forward has gone from making 45.2 percent of his shots last season to 47.6 percent through 14 games. He’s also improved his free-throw shooting from 55.1 percent to 76 percent, which is most important to him personally.
However, what’s been even more critical to Parsons’ success has been his efficiency from downtown. The former Gator is knocking down his 3-pointers at a 41.3 percent clip, up from 33.7 percent in his rookie season. His consistency from the perimeter is forcing defenders to close out on him, which is allowing Parsons — a uniquely gifted and ambidextrous ball-handler at 6-foot-9 — to attack the rim and create.
“Now that I’m shooting the ball at a higher percentage … it opens up the game for me,” Parsons told Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle. “Now, you have (defenders) running at me. It allows me to put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim, which I’m best at. It makes the game a lot easier for me now that I’m making shots because on the scouting report it says, ‘Don‘t give him any looks on 3s.’”
Parsons, always known for his work ethic at Florida, says he worked on his form a lot over the summer and concentrated on not fading away and holding his release.
His form was impeccable last Friday against the Knicks.
While all the talk entering the game was about Lin facing his former team, the talk after the game was about Parsons outperforming Carmelo Anthony. Just 11 days prior, he had set a career high with 25 points against the Heat. Against the Knicks, he surpassed that by halftime. He made 13-of-17 field goals and 4-of-7 3s as he finished with 31 points, and those came with just under seven minutes to go…in the third quarter. He sat out the fourth quarter of the 131-103 rout.
Parsons also added 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals, 1 block and 0 turnovers. Anthony finished with 37 points off 14-of-24 from the field and 7-of-12 from the arc but turned it over seven times and the rest of his stat sheet wasn’t on par with that of Parsons’.
“Chandler’s not bad for the 38th pick, huh?” said acting coach Kelvin Sampson. “Chandler’s just a winner. When he’s in the groove that he’s in right now, he’s just riding it. He took some shots that last year if I’d have known he was taking those shots … I probably would have thrown him off the bus. But that’s confidence, man, and he’s worked at it.”
For the year, Parsons is averaging 15.7 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He’s scored in double figures in eight straight games and 10 of 14 games this season. His worth to the Rockets is evident as he’s averaging a hefty 38.1 minutes per game, which is eighth most in the NBA.
Parsons is also showing a penchant for having big games while on the court with some of the NBA’s best players. As a rookie, his season high was 23 points at Miami. This season, he put up 25 against the Heat, 24 against the Lakers and 31 against the Knicks.
If he’s out to prove himself, he’s doing a good job.
Parsons will miss Houston’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night because of a right shoulder injury.
Sampson said Parsons has been unable to lift his right arm past 45 degrees after injuring it on Tuesday night in a victory against Toronto. He was uncertain of the exact nature of the injury but says he believes it is a tissue problem and not a joint issue.