While the Cavaliers use the All-Star break to rest up (well most of them anyways) we thought it would be a good time to reflect on the season so far, and issue some grades. In addition, we will detail what the Cavaliers will need from each player in order to hoist some team hardware this summer. Next up? Anthony Parker
He may not have gotten a puppet in a Nike commercial, but Parker is one of two Cavaliers to have started every game through the first half. Can you guess the other one?
Sure, the Cavaliers were aiming their free agent sights on players like Trevor Ariza and Ron Artest to run the wing this season. And sure, Anthony Parker isn’t exactly a spring chicken these days. But what Parker has meant for this team as a player who not only has only been with the Cavaliers for less than a full season, but he has been able to step in from day one and start every game of what has been a league-best first half of the 2009-10 season.
Upon signing Parker for what will end up being approximately $2.6 million this season, it allowed Danny Ferry the flexibility to add Jamario Moon and Leon Powe. But it also provided the team with some much-needed depth at the guard position which initially came to the forefront when Delonte West suffered a pretty serious setback with his bipolar disorder.
Figure in the latest brash of injuries to the Cavaliers backcourt and Parker has even been able to spend some time running the point. He’s a versatile guard that provides much-needed size (6’6″) at the shooting guard slot and quite frankly is not asked to do very much on the offensive side of things. Parker’s current PER is a few ticks under 10.00, which would place him in the “below average” pool for NBA talent. Obviously, recording double-digit point totals in only 13 games will not help this number. But a quick look at when those high totals were scored and five games found the Cavaliers on the losing end.
Point being made? Parker is not being relied on to carry the load offensively. He has been an excellent role player that has provided depth, veteran leadership and his very own version of the team intro handshakes. Anthony Parker will never be the Scottie Pippen to LeBron James’ Michael Jordan, but he has not failed to provide what the Cavaliers have asked of him to this point in the season.
It’s been a transition for Parker as he is now taking only half of the amount of shots that he was given in Toronto, but it’s also been a transition that he has taken in stride by playing his part on a team that is 43-11.
Role on the Team:
Primarily, the Cavaliers ask Parker to play solid defense on the perimeter and convert on open three-point attempts. The first half of these expectations is typically easier said than done as Parker finds himself matched up against a high-scoring threat more often than not. LeBron James may play defense on the opposition’s main weapon in crunch time, but it is Parker that is guarding the Wade’s a Bryant’s of the world for the bulk of his 20-plus minutes on the floor.
The second portion of the criteria from which we judge is the three-point conversion rate. What Danny Ferry was hoping to get from Donyell Marshall and Damon Jones, he gets from Parker for considerably less money. Of the five zones that are differentiated on NBA.com’s “Hot Spots,” Parker is rated above average in four. In fact, of his 162 three-point attempts, 109 have been from the short corners – an area that has seen Parker convert at a rate of 46 percent.
And a caveat, which should be included in all players (with a possible exception of Shaquille O’Neal) is that Parker has been asked to hit free throws. Loss to Utah aside, Parker has been right at his career success rate of 79 percent from the charity stripe. Not too shabby if you need a few points in crunch time. You know, if the ball is ever in his hands at that point…
How can Anthony best help the Cavs hoist the hardware this summer?
As cliché as it sounds, AP just needs to keep doing what he’s doing. Danny Ferry has mentioned a desire to get more scoring from the wing position, so an addition of Andre Iguodala or Rip Hamilton would likely hinder Parker’s shots at adding alpha to the Cavaliers’ returns. But in terms of what he has done to this point and the long-term future of this season, Parker simply needs to continue playing long perimeter defense and hit three-point field goals when other weapons are double-teamed.
From what we have seen, the Cavaliers have welcomed AP to the team with open arms. We have longed for weapons around LeBron that simply step up when called upon and Parker has done just that.
This may come off as a bit harsh, but given his numbers Parker’s grade of a C+ seems acceptable. His field goal percentage is a hair under his career mark, but his three-point conversion rate has not suffered one bit even with a lack of shot attempts. My main knock on Parker’s game is his lack of aggressiveness when forced to dribble. He has never been one to get to the line much (averaging 1.5 FTAs per game over his entire career), but if he were to have an inside-to-mid game, he would be worthy of at least a B-.
We add Parker eFG% to the “relavent” stats because, quite frankly, this may be the most important figure of his entire body of work. He may get even fewer attempts once the team is fully healthy, but it will be a matter of continuing to convert on what opportunities arise.