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#pounditWednesday, January 20, 2021

David Fizdale wants to use Chandler Parsons the way Heat used LeBron James

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Memphis Grizzlies first-year head coach David Fizdale has some lofty expectations for new free agent acquisition Chandler Parsons.

In an interview with Tim MacMahon of ESPN on Friday, Fizdale, a longtime assistant under Erik Spoelstra in Miami, said that he envisions using Parsons the same way the Heat used LeBron James.

“When I said I want to play him like LeBron, I do,” Fizdale said. “I really do want to use him, because there’s not many guys in the league at that size that have that skill set, and there’s no reason why I should put a cap on his abilities because his name isn’t LeBron James. I just see the same skill set.

“He’s not a high flyer like LeBron obviously,” Fizdale continued. “But he can pass it, he can shoot the 3, he’s huge, he can post guys and he moves great without the basketball, so I can move him around in a lot of different spots. I do not want to put a ceiling on him. I want to see how far we can go with him and put him in a role that is positionless. … I think all it takes is a coach showing that he has the confidence in a guy to do it and develop him according to the system and then it can take place.”

Note that Fizdale isn’t quite comparing Parsons to James, a once-in-an-eternity talent whose combination of elite physical tools and unparalleled skill/basketball IQ may never be seen again. Rather, Fizdale is drawing attention to their similarities in play style as well as how to most effectively utilize said play style.

During his time in Miami, James was deployed as the primary initiator of halfcourt offense (namely, pick-and-roll/slash-and-kick sets) and used his driving ability and playmaking prowess to engineer an unyielding pace-and-space offensive machine. On defense, James was free to prowl on the perimeter rather than having to bang with opposing power forwards down low (a task that usually went to Shane Battier instead).

Something similar could be in store in Memphis this season for Parsons, a lanky 6-foot-10 combo forward who is comfortable both handling the basketball for significant periods and stroking it from deep (a 38.0 percent career three-point shooter) when needed. The Grizzlies also have enough rugged athletes on their roster to prevent Parsons’ balky knees from taking any unnecessary punishment on the defensive end.

With Fizdale already making some major changes to the Grizzlies’ modus operandi, he’ll hope that Parsons can live up to his billing as a max-contract player as well for his rookie season as a head coach to be a successful one.

Image via Ximo Pierto on YouTube

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