Chandler Parsons' emergence was one of the great stories for the Rockets in the lockout shortened 2011-12 season. However, as Rockets fans have seen first hand with Patrick Patterson and Chase Budinger, translating early success into a solid sophomore season is not always easy.
Will Parsons continue this trend of promising rookies becoming irrelevant in their second seasons? Here are three reasons why he can succeed in the face of adversity in year two of his NBA career.
1) His Value Is Not Tied To Jump Shots
Both Patrick Patterson and Chase Budinger rode hot shooting starts to excellent rookie campaigns. Budinger shot dramatically better from mid-range and from behind the arc during his rookie season than his sophomore year, and that inability to make shots during his sophomore season limited his court time. Patterson was in a similar position this year; coming off a year where he made everything from inside 20 feet, he clanged jumper after jumper off the rim.
Parsons, on the other hand, derives his value out of slashing, crashing the boards, and defending mercilessly, a few attributes with little variance in performance from game to game (or year to year). His shooting improved throughout the season, but it was in no way his calling card.
Though teams might learn how to exploit Parsons' weaknesses defensively (something they struggled to do in 2011-12), his value is unlikely to take a major hit.
2) He's A Tireless Worker
Watch Parsons play for five minutes, and you'll quickly notice that he's the hardest worker on the court. It's no coincidence that Parsons was "always in the right spot at the right time" for a tip slam or a game changing steal. In that same vein, it wasn't surprising to see a miserable shooter at season's start develop into a perfectly adequate outside weapon. Whether it was in practice or the game, Parsons always appeared to give 100%, something that allowed him to stake a claim to a rotation spot so quickly.
As Parsons' hits his first struggles of his sophomore season, he'll need to work through it. Unlike Chase Budinger, who seemed to get frustrated with his lack of progress and struggle, Parsons should be counted on to continue to improve.
3) He's Healthy
Both Patterson and Budinger struggled with injuries during their sophomore seasons. Patterson's was a slow recovery from off-season ankle surgery to remove bone chips and Budinger's was one of many sprained ankles he'd suffer in his career.
Perhaps Parsons could sprain his ankle in training camp like Budinger did, but Budinger has a history of ankle injuries and Parsons does not. There's no reason to believe that Parsons won't be 100% healthy for the start of the season, something Budinger and Patterson could not say for their second years.
In the end, Parsons could struggle coming out of the gate in 2012-13, but to expect regression is not fair. He has none of the red flags of past promising rookies, and seems to be a pretty safe bet to stick as a starter at the three spot for the next half decade.
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