Over the summer the Houston Rockets let prized wing Chandler Parsons sign with the Dallas Mavericks for a three-year, $46 million contract they didn’t want to match. Instead of matching that offer sheet, they signed free agent Trevor Ariza, and many thought they’d suffer this season for the purported downgrade. Through the season’s first eight days, though, Houston is undefeated and Ariza has turned into the perfect amalgamation of efficiency. Parsons, meanwhile, says he doesn’t pay attention to him.
Normally, we’d agree with Parsons. Here’s what he said about Ariza, via ESPN Dallas:
“I don’t pay any attention to [Ariza],” Parsons said. “Listen, many people replace many people every year in this league. He’s a good, proven player in this league. He’s supposed to play good for them.”
Well said, and all the outlets trying to turn this into something it’s not — some sort of beef between the two — is only thrumming the anticipation for a rivalry that doesn’t need any more hype. The Rockets-Mavs battles this year are going to be epic, regardless of how Parsons feels about Ariza (Dallas travels to Houston for their first game on Nov. 22).
Still, Parsons does keep track of his old team, just not Ariza specifically:
“I’m still a fan of those guys,” Parsons said. “Obviously, I want us to do better. When we play them, I want to beat them. But those are still my friends, and I’m still pulling for coach [Kevin] McHale. I definitely still keep an eye on what they’re doing.”
Perhaps he should, though.
Currently, Ariza is putting up 17.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. He also leads the NBA with 21 three-pointers, and hits them at a 60 percent clip. But that’s not the craziest thing about his season so far. No, it’s where Ariza’s hitting shots, not how frequently he’s hitting them. Per NBA blogger Bryan Mears, comes this interesting factoid form early yesterday
The same thing happened during Houston’s 108-91 win over previously undefeated Miami last night. Ariza was 5-for-8 from the field in a little over 40 minutes of action. All eight of his attempts came from beyond the arc, including a trio of big three-pointers late in Houston’s win.
Through five games, Ariza has ONLY connected on shots from beyond the three-point arc, or shots at the rim. Here’s his shot chart, which is right out of a Basketball Twitter Sloan Sports Conference wet dream (there’s a decent chance the basketball bros will see a powerpoint-heavy demonstration of Ariza’s brilliance at the Sloan Conference this year).
The most efficient shots in all of basketball come from corner three-pointers and layups/dunks at the rim. Mathematically speaking, any three-pointer is more efficient — at least in terms of the return on a shot (ROAS, like ROI for hoops) — than any shot but a shot at the rim. In this way, Ariza has been brilliant.*
That’s not to say Parsons has somehow failed to live up to his mammoth offseason deal. Quite the contrary, in fact. Despite struggling to just five points on 2-for-10 shooting in a season-opening loss to the defending champion Spurs, in the remaining three Mavs wins, Parsons has averaged 23.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game while shooting 56.7 percent from the field and 50 percent from the three-point line.
Still, Parsons’ shot chart doesn’t resemble Ariza’s, so maybe he could pay at least a little attention to the man who replaced him in Houston.
*This is the point where our Old Man and a lot of other geriatric basketball fans grumble about what advanced analytics and the three-point arc have done to the game they love. Whatever, they’re old.
What do you think?
Follow Spencer on Twitter at @SpencerTyrel.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.