A Goodbye to Jannero Pargo

So Pargo is gone, off to earn in one year what teams in the NBA were only willing to pay him over two years.  I don't feel betrayed or backstabbed or any sense of anger like I've seen on a few of the fan boards.  Pargo learned early in his career that his hold on the NBA was tenuous and that he needed to get what he could while he could.  Switching teams six times in six seasons and never being offered a contract for more than two years will do that to you.

My opinion of Pargo's game changed only slightly over the last year.  Here is what I wrote over at my old blog about him before the 2007-2008 season – when I was comparing Hornets players to weapons from the game Halo.

Jannero Pargo, G: Needler
The needler will unleash a rapid-fire burst of needles at your opponent. Usually, the needles miss a lot and using the gun exposes you to your enemies counter fire more than you want. But man, when on target, the needler will destroy the competition.  Pargo = Needler.

I have a little more respect for his defense after the last year than I did before, since his ability to pressure ball handlers was an integral part of that hard-nosed 2nd unit defense.  Offensively though, he was beyond streaky.  Either he was on for weeks, or we was useless for weeks.  In the middle of December I was ready for him to go, hoping we'd find a guard somewhere that could put the ball in the basket.  At that point, he was shooting 35% from the floor and 25% from beyond the arc for the season.  Still, Pargo's efforts for the team through January and February wiped out a lot of those bad memories as the team made a furious push that saw them earn two all-stars and recognition across the league.  He shot 46% during that stretch, and 39% from deep.  Predictably, he then fell apart again in March and April.

In the end, he's one of those divisive players that fans love to hate – and love to cheer for.  The disciplined nature of the Hornets made him seem even more like a maverick, and he gave me more "No, Nooo . . . . YES!" moments than anyone wearing teal this season.  At the end of the season, I liked him.  After the Dallas series, where he was huge and helped Chris Paul make Jason Kidd look like a dinosaur, I was a fan.  After game five, I was ready and began putting together research so I could post in praise of Jannero Pargo.  I got set and was ready to write and  then Pargo refused to explode in the Spurs series, having only one good game, and that being the last one of the series when the Hornets crashed and burned.

Well, it's time to put that post together.  Pargo is gone, and we won't see his incredible handle in Teal this year, so let's celebrate him while we can.

During a recent Liveblog at Yahoo, I asked the participants if they thought the thirty-two good games Jannero Pargo had per year were worth the fifty bad ones.  Dwyer corrected me, pointing out that Pargo really gave your team fifty bad games per year, sixteen good ones, and sixteen Nova ones.  He's absolutely right.  When Pargo is on, he's a star.  Jonathan Givony of Draft Express can attest to that.  During that Dallas series, Henry Abbot of Truehoop was kind enough to introduce me to him so I could interview him about his experience scouting Pargo.

The summer before the 2007-08 season, Givony was in Chicago to see a bunch of workouts, and caught a little side workout with some very fringe prospects who were working with Pargo.  They started with three-point shooting drills, and Pargo was on fire.  He drilled 14 of 15, then 10 of 13, then 9 of 10, 15 of 15, and 10 of 12.  When the two on two drills started, it was obvious what was coming.  Unleashing his deadly barrage of headfakes, step backs, pivots, jabs, and mid-range pull-ups, he destroyed the other players.  His footwork and ballhandling was perfect, and even though his shots were off-balance a lot of the time, it didn't seem to matter.

As Givony went through this workout with me over the phone, I could see in my minds eye exactly what he was talking about.  When he said that he had timed Pargo and it took him .5 seconds to go from jab step to releasing the ball I was nodding like a fool.  How many times had I seen him do that very thing at the top of the key?  Jab, pull up, off-balance shot, net, and the defender still flat-footed.

Throughout the workout, Givony reported Pargo was ice-cold.  Without any change of expression, he took the prospects apart.  And again, I could see him, that serious expression on his face, calmly backpedalling after drilling a big three.  His demeanor on the court was great.  Nothing fazed him.  Not pressure, not missing a shot, not nearly having his neck broken when Jason Kidd flipped him.  In fact, while that flipping got the biggest response out of him I'd seen all year, it was telling.  He clapped.  He smiled, clapped, pushed Julian Wright away from Kidd, and then smiled and clapped some more.  Ice. Cold.

I'll miss that.  I'll miss new videos like this.  And his part in this.

Enjoy Moscow, Jannero.

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