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VOL. 131 | NO. 137 | Monday, July 11, 2016
Don Wade

Don Wade

Parsons a Plum Terrific Shooter

By Don Wade

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Anna is a 29-year-old Grizzlies fan and she had gathered with other Grizzlies fans in the Grand Lobby of FedExForum to meet forward Chandler Parsons. Well, maybe not meet him – although Parsons was generous about signing autographs and letting fans take selfies with him – but at least get a glimpse of the most significant free agent to leave the competition and come to Memphis.

“Sounds like he’s a good shooter,” Anna said, and naturally she was wearing her Grizzlies garb for the event.

Yes, Chandler Parsons is a shooter. And now a Grizzly. Imagine that, finding those two things together.

Over the last two seasons with Dallas, his 3-point shooting percentage bumped 40 percent. For his five-year career with the Mavericks and Houston Rockets, the 27-year-old Parsons is a 38 percent shooter from long range.

And on one fantastic night at Houston’s Toyota Center, back on Jan. 24, 2014, Parsons knocked down 10 straight shots behind the arc in the second half (an NBA record for threes in a half) on the way to his career-high 34 points. Against the Grizzlies. You remember that, don’t you?

Worth noting: Memphis actually won the game. But it was still a happening beyond comprehension for Grizzlies fans. One player making 10 straight threes in a half? Are you out of your mind?

There have been whole weeks when the Grizzlies didn’t make 10 threes collectively. And the best shooter of recent vintage, departed guard Courtney Lee, reacted to a poor shooting night by putting up a stop sign.

This is not anecdotal. After Lee went 1-for-6 from deep in a win over Portland on Nov. 13 last season, he took exactly 10 shots from downtown over the next six games and 12 days, making two. Ten attempted shots in 155-plus minutes of court time.

Ray Allen has been out of the league two years and still gets up more threes than that.

“He’s definitely a sight for sore eyes,” Anna said of Parsons and, no, she didn’t just mean because of his shooting.

Chandler Parsons could be voted the Grizzly most likely to moonlight as a lead singer in a pop band or as the star of a daytime soap opera. Admit it: He’s even got the perfect name for those roles.

But as Grizzlies general manager Chris Wallace said on the occasion of celebrating the signing of Parsons for four years and more than $94 million, “Chandler’s not just a good-looking guy in a plum suit. He’s a guy with a tremendous amount of tenacity.”

He also is 6-foot-10 and 230 pounds and more than just a shooter. He can drive to the basket, too. For his career, he averages 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.03 steals per game. So if the long-distance shot is not falling on a given night, he can help other ways.

For his part, Parsons accepts the “shooter” label as a compliment, but says, “I also feel I’m one of the more versatile players in the league. With my size and my ability to put the ball on the floor and make passes and make decisions, there aren’t many players that can do what I do at my size.”

Still, shooters in plum suits will have to prove they can truly fit with Grit ‘n Grind.

“I might not look like it, but I’m a tough guy and I’m gonna grind and I’m gonna work hard,” he said. “I’ve done that my whole career to get me to this point.”

Good to hear. But let’s not pretend he’s here to be a defensive stopper. That’s still Tony Allen’s job. Running the offense and setting guys up is still Mike Conley’s job. And Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph will man the post. Ground-and-pound is not going away.

Now, however, there will be another option. A legitimate 3-point shooter who isn’t afraid to fire away and can get hot at a record-setting clip.

“I want to take the big shot,” Parsons said.

Make enough of them, and we’ll all wear plum suits.

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