Apr 23, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (25) and center Dwight Howard (12) react after a play during the second quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers in game two during the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
It’s funny how one’s feelings on a teammate can change so quickly—or maybe it’s just the blunt truth.
The camps on whether or not the Houston Rockets have regressed this offseason through the loss of Chandler Parsons are pretty evenly split.
There are those who will cite that Trevor Ariza is not much of a step down, if any, from Parsons. And there are those who also feel the Rockets allowed a potential star to walk, in not matching the Dallas Mavericks’ offer sheet for Parsons.
Dwight Howard is clearly in the camp of those who believe the loss of Parsons will not be that detrimental to the team.
Howard told ESPN the Rockets still have the best shooting guard and center in the NBA, and that the loss of Parsons “won’t affect us at all.”
The compelling part of Dwight’s argument is that it could be true. Ariza shot a better mark from distance last year than Parsons, without the benefit of playing in the Rockets’ free flowing system.
With James Harden and Howard attracting a lot of attention, Ariza will find himself with a lot of good scoring opportunities on the wing. Further, Jeremy Lin won’t be in the fold, which will likely boost a heavier role upon Ariza.
Mar 27, 2014; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard (12) and forward Chandler Parsons (25) celebrate after a play during the second quarter against the Philadelphia 76ers at Toyota Center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Ariza posted a PER of 15.8 last season, which is about the league average. Parsons posted a negligibly higher 15.9. While Player Efficiency ratings aren’t the tell-all of a players’ game, as far as analytics go, it is one of the best measure’s of a player’s impact (It compares his impact compared to the rest of the players in the league that season with the median being a ’15.’ Thus, neither player last season played much above replacement level).
By comparison’s sake, Harden was 23.5 in 2013-14, and Howard notched a 21.3 mark. Both were far greater than the league average, and Howard’s remark that he and Harden are the best at their respective positions is, by most numerical measures, true. Or at least half-true, anyway.
Howard ranked sixth last season in PER among NBA centers. His days of being the league’s best center may be all but over. His once heavy competition of Andrew Bynum is on the brink of retirement; but DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Drummond, Joakim Noah, Al Jefferson and Marc Gasol all contend for the best spot at this point.
Harden, meanwhile, is one of the game’s top 2-guards. Beard posted the highest PER of any shooting guard last season, and the other premier 2-guards are all towards the end of their careers.
While Kobe Bryant and Manu Ginobili may be the proven entities at shooting guard, Harden is likely the best at this juncture.
The Rockets were not featuring Parsons as a main attraction last season, despite the fact he managed to play an instrumental role in a number of victories. While he may go on to improve in Dallas, the Rockets were not willing to gamble on that improvement at such a high price tag.
Ariza was signed for slightly more than half of what the Mavericks will pay Parsons, and there’s scarcely an argument to be formed that the Rockets will regress from last season’s win total.
Losing Omer Asik could potentially hurt, but the Rockets are not done making moves yet this summer. Daryl Morey may ultimately opt to save the better part of his spending for next summer, but the core of a strong Rockets team remains. The frustrating part is that the Rockets could have signed Parsons and played Ariza at the 2-spot to form an even stronger starting five, but Morey certainly has a plan still yet to unfold for filling out the roster.