BY: KYLE ADAMS
The Houston Rockets may not have anyone participating in Sunday’s All-Star game in Orlando, but they have a pair of young guns competing this weekend.
Chandler Parsons, the Rockets’ second-round pick in last year’s draft, will be teaming up with former Rocket Kenny Smith and Sophia Young of the WNBA’s San Antonio Silver Stars as part of “Team Texas” to compete in the All-Star weekend’s Shooting Stars Competition.
Parsons is having a surprisingly solid year and is starting for the Rockets, though he has made his name defensively and with his highlight tip-in dunks.
Still, it’s a nice reward for the young man, who said he is thrilled to be a part of the weekend in his hometown.
“As a kid, if you told me I would be participating in All-Star weekend, I would not believe you,” he said. “To be part of it is real special. Obviously, being in my hometown is going to be a great opportunity and I’m going to have fun with it.”
Parsons is only shooting 42.2 percent overall, and 29.2 percent from 3, but those numbers have improved throughout the season. He’s been more comfortable on cuts to the hoop and stuff around the rim, but, as Wednesday’s game showed, he is getting more acclimated to the long-range stuff as well.
Chase Budinger is having a great year shooting the ball, drilling 45.2 of his field goals and a splendid 40.4 from 3. Oddly, however, he will be participating in the dunk contest, even though dunks account for just 3 percent of his total field goal attempts this season.
Budinger, however, is a high flyer with nice athletic ability, and the former volleyball legend in California certainly has hops.
But you would think with dunks even making up 8 percent of Parsons’ attempts, they should be flip-flopped. That’s not my take, however.
In my opinion, Budinger, who averaged 26 dunks the last two seasons before only taking six this season, is the better dunker, even if he has settled into more of a shooting specialist role this season, and I actually think Parsons can grow back into the shooter he was at Florida and start shooting/making more jumpers.
In an all-star weekend that is relatively obscure and has already drawn criticism for its weak field – especially in the dunk contest – these Rockets have a great opportunity to surprise people and make a name for themselves.
All-Star weekend is always fun to watch, even more so since Budinger and “Team Texas” are going to leave Orlando with the trophies.