Mavericks Small Forward Comparison: Parsons VS. Marion
By Sameer Moosa
The Dallas Mavericks filled their starting small forward position after the Houston Rockets decided not to match the offer for Chandler Parsons. The Mavericks finally got their man in Parsons, but that means that Shawn Marion, Dallas’ starting small forward for the past five season including the 2011 championship season, will likely move on. While Parsons is a great young talent that seems like a great fit for the Mavericks, The Matrix will definitely be missed. Let’s see how the Mavericks’ new starting small forward matches up against the old one.
While Shawn Marion consistently gave the Mavericks around ten to twelve points a game in his five year tenure with Dallas, Chandler Parsons has increased his scoring average each year since his rookie season three years ago. Last season, Marion averaged 10.4 points while Parsons averaged 16.6 points. Parsons’ superior athleticism, shooting ability, and great movement without the ball help him gain a scoring advantage and help fit a big need for Dallas right now.
While Marion could occasionally hit shots from beyond the arc and have a big night scoring, like when he dropped 32 points on the T-Wolves, he is not someone an opponent looks at as a scoring threat, not like he was in Phoenix anyway. Marion’s awkward shooting form and crazy jump-hook-floater, or whatever his shot is called, were inconsistent and, at times, pretty frustrating to watch. The Matrix could get out on the break, but it didn’t happen as often last season, showing his decline in athleticism.
Parsons, on the other hand, can get hot from deep, like when he drained 10 threes in a half against the Grizzles, can put the ball on the floor, and can finish on the fast break quickly, which should mesh well with Carlisle’s offensive scheme and is likely the biggest reason the Mavs paid so much for him.
Parsons has slightly increased his rebounding average in each of his three seasons, grabbing 5.5 rpg last year, which had a lot to do with great hustle plays. Marion averaged around 6 to 8 rebounds during his time with the Mavericks.
While Parsons is probably more athletic than Marion at this stage in their careers, Marion’s experience and size (as in weight, not height) have allowed him to consistently get rebounds, especially offensive boards that end up being crucial late in games.
This is an area Marion has been great at his entire career, playing the four also when the Big German needed some rest, but it’s also an area that Parsons can improve on as he gets more experienced, especially since he is a 6-9 small forward.
Passing is one aspect of the game where Shawn Marion just couldn’t get it going for the Mavs. I love Shawn Marion, but honestly, sometimes I felt like he was one of the worst passing forwards in the league with some of his awful passes.
I know that sounds harsh, but you would think the same if you saw them too. Parsons, on the other hand is a phenomenal passer for a 6-9 forward. He has great vision, is unselfish, and, from the many highlights I have been watching of him lately, he is a great passer off the dribble, much like Monta Ellis. While Parsons averaged 4 assists last season, Marion averaged a mere 1.6 assists.
Shawn Marion was mainly known for his man-to-man defense with the Dallas Mavericks. His phenomenal D’ on players such as Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, and Dwayne Wade were a huge part of why there is a championship banner hanging above the rafters at the American Airlines Center. Even in the last few years, Marion has probably been the Mavericks’ best perimeter defender, but he has constantly been snubbed from the all-defensive team, which is especially ridiculous when players such as James Harden get more votes than him just because of popularity.
On the other hand, while Parsons’ athleticism and intelligence can help him make some great defensive plays, he hasn’t been a consistent defender throughout his three-year career.
However, since Parsons is so young, he will almost certainly develop his defensive game, especially with Rick Carlisle’s help. Mark Cuban also stated that he thinks Parsons will get much better on the defensive end, explaining that the Mavs do great drills for that purpose.
Currently, Shawn Marion could probably still be an elite perimeter defender and his savvy on the defensive end will surely be missed by the Mavs. However, Marion’s offensive game is only going to decline from here, and right now the Mavericks need some offense at small forward, especially a player who can shoot the three ball consistently.
Chandler Parsons is just the guy for Dallas. He is a clear upgrade at the starting small forward position and probably hasn’t even “scratched the surface” of how good he could be. Not only is he a great shooter, but he can also play the 4 when the Mavs want to play small ball, and he has the potential to be a star in this league with the Mavericks for years to come. Also, Parsons doesn’t need the ball to be an effective player, unlike Monta Ellis or Dirk Nowitzki.
His movement without the ball and effort will help the Mavericks greatly, and, more importantly, he could still improve by leaps and bounds, especially on defense, over the next couple of years to help Dallas compete for another title. And Parsons being “offended” by the Rockets and thinking that Dallas is the “perfect fit” shows that he wants to be here and will probably have a special outing against our Interstate rivals.
He may be overpaid, but with Dirk’s loyalty pay-cut being even bigger than we thought, it’s worth it for Parsons.