During the regular season, Parsons averaged 15.5. points, 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 45.2 percent from the floor. Although his PER was just above the league average at 15.33, Parsons was a driving force in Houston's successful campaign.
According to 82Games.com, opposing small forwards combined to post a PER of 14.2 against the Rockets this season. The play of Parsons was easily the biggest factor, as the Florida Gator product is competent on both ends of the court.
At 6' 9", Parsons is a bit taller than most wings, which is an advantage when trying to disrupt shots on the perimeter. Due to his height, Parsons has the ability to play the role of a stretch power forward in certain situations.
Considering the league's current trajectory with small ball lineups dominating, Parsons' versatility makes him one of the franchise's most valuable assets. It isn't just Parsons' production that makes him so useful, as his contract is extremely team-friendly.
Drafting productive players in the second round gives a franchise a competitive advantage, with Parsons serving as a perfect example. Houston paid Parsons just $888,250 this season, which was easily one of the league's best values.
Next season, the Rockets will owe Parsons just $926,500, so his level of production is virtually guaranteed to surpass his compensation. As one of the NBA's best financial bargains, Parsons has demonstrated the potential to develop into one of the team's leaders.
Due to the current collective bargaining agreement which severely punishes franchises that are over the tax line, a bargain player like Parsons has the potential to make the difference between making a title run or deciding to completely reconstruct a roster.
Even though Parsons has only played on the Rockets for two years, he's already the team's longest tenured player. According to Howard Chen of CSNHouston.com, the University of Florida product said the following in regards to the progression of both himself and the team:
"I've grown a lot. I think it helps that all the guys are good guys. We do have a young team, but they're all listeners. They all ask questions and they make it easy for me. Being the guy that's been here the longest, which obviously isn't saying too much because everybody's new, I'm just a voice in the locker room. I try to lead by example and do anything I can do to make guys feel comfortable and be themselves."
Based upon that response, it's hard not to buy into Parsons' ability as a leader. At just 24 years of age, the Rockets' starting small forward is already considering how his actions affect the teams' chemistry.
Between Parsons' low salary and mental outlook, Houston definitely has one of the league's most intriguing players.
Due to their cap space, the Rockets figure to be one the NBA's most active teams once free agency gets underway. Marc Stein of ESPN.com has reported that the Rockets have received "hopeful signs" that Dwight Howard is seriously considering signing with the team this summer.
If Howard were to join Parsons and Harden in Houston, they would become one of the league's most notable trios. With Harden and Howard being the bigger names, Parsons would continue developing while flying under the radar.
While the Rockets may not land Howard, they are likely to improve their team in some manner once the offseason commences.
If the Rockets were able to add another star player, that addition would catapult them into contention in the Western Conference. One of the quickest ways for a player to be viewed as a star is to be a consistent source of excellent production on a relevant team, an opportunity that could be provided to Parsons if this offseason unfolds in Houston's favor.
Houston was far better with Parsons on the court, as evidenced by the fact that he was a member of the Rockets' six most effective units based upon the numbers supplied by 82Games.com.
The ability to play multiple positions is a luxury Parsons provides, which only makes him more valuable.
I think he has a really bright future and I don’t say that a lot about a lot of people.
When the "Black Mamba" praises a young player, everyone should pay attention because it's not something he does often. Considering that Bryant has been in the NBA since 1996 and has enjoyed a storied career, his opinions should be viewed as credible.
For Kobe to praise Parsons, the latter must have seriously impressed the five-time NBA Champion in their contests. Gaining the respect of an all-time great isn't easy, which makes Kobe's comment even more significant.
Parsons' solid all-around game and non-stop hustle were likely the reasons for Kobe's praise, as either one could help a player carve out a successful career. Seeing as the Florida product is talented and works tirelessly, it's hard to confidently predict anything other than a long NBA run for Parsons.
Depending on how the offseason plays out, the Rockets could enter the upcoming season as a team flying under the radar. If that is the case, Houston's current roster promises to show signs of improvement in the immediate future.
The continued development of Parsons is a key reason, as he is poised to emerge as a star once next season tips off.