There were two major sophomore players who demonstrated their worth this postseason: Klay Thompson and Chandler Parsons. The 2011 draft alumnus both played integral roles for their respective teams, with Thompson delivering one key performance for the Golden State Warriors and Parsons scoring at least 17 points in four of his six playoffs games this year for the Houston Rockets.
The question remains: who will have a better career?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty comparison, let’s take a closer look at the background of each of these players. Thompson is technically a shooting guard but is afforded a “swingman” status because of his 6’7’’ height and 205 lb weight. Parsons is a dedicated small forward at 6’9’’ and 200 lbs. Parsons played four years at the University of Florida and was drafted early in the second round by the Rockets.
Thompson played three years at Washington State University and was selected with the 11th overall pick by the Warriors. Parsons was a starter for most of the 2011-12 season while Thompson only started for about half of those games.
During the regular season, Thompson averaged 16.6 points on 42.2 percent shooting from the field and 40.1 percent from beyond the arc. He also managed to pick up 3.7 rebounds, two assists and one steal.
Parsons averaged nearly 16 points on 48.6 percent shooting and 38.5 percent on three-point attempts. Parsons also racked up five boards, nearly four assists and one steal. There are a few nuances within these stats, however. Thompson was the Warriors’ second scoring option and this is reflected by his nearly 15 attempted shots per game. Parsons, on the other hand, was not nearly relied on as much and only attempted a little more than 12 shots per game.
Parson’s efficiency relative to Thompson’s is highlighted further by the advance stat “Player Efficiency Rating,” or PER for short. PER is a measure of per-minute production, and Parson’s PER was 2.6 higher than Thompson’s. The two sophomores both displayed their lights-out shooting, but Parsons excelled when it came to finishing above the rim and around the basket.
Although these stats are a little skewed because Thompson took nearly 300 more shots than Parsons this season, the point remains that the Florida product is a much better finisher in the restricted area.
Parsons also displays more offensive maturity than Thompson, as he tends to only attempt dunks, layups or off the glass jumpers and stays aways from long twos. In fact, Parsons only attempted 27 shots in the 10 to 16 feet zone compared to Thompson’s 161. Instead of taking the low percentage shot (both shot at sub 40 percent levels in that zone).
If we look to their respective playoff averages, the choice becomes even clearer. Thompson shattered records with his 29 points in a half performance against the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2, but he finished that game with 34 points, meaning he only scored five points in the entire second half. This is unfortunately extremely indicative of Thompson’s overall game–a couple flashes of brilliance mixed in with mediocre efforts.
Thompson scored at least 17 points in six of his 12 playoff games. In the other six, he scored 10 or less. He averaged 15 points on 43.7 percent shooting with a nonetheless impressive 42.4 percent from downtown. He also managed to grab almost five rebounds, nearly two assists and one steal per game.
While Parsons was not as brilliant from the beyond the arc (shooting a still-respectable 40 percent), he managed to outscore Thompson with 18.2 points on 45.2 percent shooting while grabbing 6.5 rebounds and dishing out 3.7 assists per game. The 6’9’’ forward retained his efficiency by only taking one more shot than Thompson, but he still outscored him by three points.
While both Klay Thompson and Chandler Parsons have extremely bright futures, I have to say that Chandler Parson’s looks a little brighter due to his multifaceted scoring ability, his high basketball IQ and his ability to distribute and score efficiently.