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Grizzlies’ coach Fizdale wants to use Chandler Parsons like Miami used LeBron James

Chandler Parsons

Memphis Grizzlies forward Chandler Parsons poses for a picture on NBA basketball media day Monday, Sept. 26, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. Parsons signed with the Grizzlies in July. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)


On paper, and if healthy, Chandler Parsons is exactly what Memphis needs — a guy who can space the floor with his shot and is a second shot-creator on the wing who gives them more offensive options.

New head coach David Fizdale’s job is to put Parsons and the Grizzlies in a system that best takes advantage of those skills. The former Heat lead assistant has an idea from his past — treat Parsons like the Heat did LeBron James. From Tim MacMahon of ESPN.

“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, 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.”

Let’s start with the obvious here: Parsons is no LeBron. Parsons isn’t as physical, isn’t as quick, isn’t as good a passer, and the list goes on. That’s not a knock on Parsons — LeBron is arguably the most physically gifted player the NBA has ever seen, and as good a passing forward as has ever played the game. Nobody is quite LeBron.

Can Parson’s be a poor man’s LeBron in a system that plays to his versatile strengths? Maybe. Memphis signed him over Portland (a four-year, $94 million max deal was offered by both teams) because they promised to put the ball in his hands and get him opportunities. It makes sense and can be what the Grizzlies need in a second option — give a good, smart player the ball and let him make decisions. Parsons is efficient running the pick-and-roll, so let him.

For any of this to work, Parsons needs to be healthy. Parsons has been slowed by knee pain through camp — remember he had two knee surgeries in the last 18 months — and he is questionable for opening night. That means James Ennis — GO LONG BEACH!!! — may get the call after a strong camp.