HOOPSWORLD NBA All-Star Rookie Report
HOOPSWORLD caught up with rookies Chandler Parsons and Kemba Walker this weekend. Walker participating in the Rising Stars Challenge and Parsons in the Shooting Stars. The Houston forward also helped out teammate Chase Budinger in the slam dunk contest.
Chandler Parsons Comfortable Back Home in Orlando
Growing up 10 minutes from the Arena in Orlando, Chandler Parsons first foray into All-Star festivities has been a homecoming of sorts for the Houston Rockets starting forward.
“I’ve lived here my entire life, same house in Orlando, so I know this area very well,” Parsons said. “If you would have told me I’d be participating in All-Star weekend, I would’ve laughed.”
Because of that familiarity with the area, one can imagine the amount of tickets Parsons was tasked with supplying for family and friends.
“I might go broke,” Parsons joked. “My family’s killing me right now.”
Parsons participated in the Shooting Stars competition Saturday night with team Texas that featured former Rockets’ guard Kenny Smith, Parsons and WNBA San Antonio Silver Stars Sophia Young. Team Texas finished second in the competition, but Parsons still enjoyed the experience of being able to participate at All-Star weekend in front of his friends and family.
“It was incredible,” Parsons told HOOPSWORLD. “Being from Orlando and being able to share this entire weekend with my family… it was just a great weekend to kick back and relax, meet some great people. It was really a blast, but now we’ve got another half of basketball to get going so it’s time to get back to Houston and get to work.”
On the NBA hardwood, Parsons has played so well early on in his rookie season that he’s muscled his way into the role of starting small forward. Parsons has done a good job adjusting to the NBA game in his first season, which he believes is no easy task.
“Shots that were open in college are not open in the NBA,” Parsons said. “Everyone is bigger, faster and stronger so it’s [a different] game.”
Houston, 20-14 going into the All-Star break, currently sits at sixth in the Western Conference standings.
Kemba Walker Enjoying Break from Losing
The ninth overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft participated in the BBVA Rising Stars challenge Friday night, getting a break from the Charlotte Bobcats’ dreadful season.
On the court this season, things have been less than fun and games for the NCAA Championship winner. In fact, going from a winning program like the University of Connecticut to the worst team in basketball has been quite the culture shock for Walker.
During his three-year NCAA career at UCONN, Walker lost just 30 total contests with the Huskies.
This season in Charlotte, the Bobcats have already accumulated 28 losses over the span of just 32 games.
“It’s been a rough season for us so just to get this little break is definitely a great thing,” Walker told HOOPSWORLD.
Speaking of said break, Walker took part in an incredibly meaningful contest last night between Team Chuck and Team Shaq in which the game literally devolved into a John Wall personal slam dunk contest. Walker did his part though, doing a decent job separating himself from the pack with 10 points and a game-high 10 assists.
Hanging with a good amount of players he played against in college was a welcome change for Walker, who told HOOPSWORLD he rarely gets to speak to those guys during the season.
“I’ve been playing against most of these guys for a long time so I’m just happy to see them,” Walker told HOOPSWORLD. “You know we don’t get a chance to see each other a lot because of the season.
“I’m just trying to enjoy my time and just catch up with those guys.”
The good news for Walker and the Bobcats in general is that both the 21-year-old point guard and the young nucleus of this team are only going to continue to get better. Gerald Henderson, Tyrus Thomas, D.J. Augustin, Bismack Biyombo and Walker all have plenty of room to grow and gel with one another.
“I’m doing pretty well honestly,” Walker said. “I’m feeling great, body-wise and I’m playing pretty well so I can’t complain.”
There are still plenty of kinks in his game to be ironed out, with plenty of shooting drills on the agenda as Walker sits at 37 percent shooting for the season. Developing a consistent jump shot is the first priority, although a few more scoring options to help him out on the last-ranked Bobcats scoring offense (86.5 points per game) wouldn’t hurt either.
Walker will be back on the grind Wednesday night as the Bobcats open up the second half of the season with a road game in Detroit to take on Pistons.