Name: Jannero Pargo (pronounced Juh-NAIR-oh)
Birth Date: October 22, 1979 (29 years old)
Birth Place: Chicago, IL
Drafted: Undrafted (2002)
Experience: 6 seasons
Previous team: New Orleans (2006-2008)
Contract: $1.9 million in 2009-10
Expect: Instant scoring off the bench
Don’t expect: Shooting efficiency
Pargo is a classic shoot-first point guard who seems to regard creating for his teammates as a solid second option. In many ways, he’s a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body. Pargo’s offense comes from spot-up jumpers (out to three-point range), midrange jumpers off the pick and roll, and pull-up jumpers off of drives that stop short of the basket. Notice how the three main facets of his offense included the word “jumpers”? That’s because, like Kirk Hinrich, Pargo’s game is jumper-centric. During the 2007-08 season — his last in the NBA — 84 percent of Pargo’s field goal attempts were jump shots. And since only 43 percent of his converted jumpers were assisted, it’s clear he’s looking to create his own shot.
The only problem is that, despite his smooth and fundamentally sound shooting stroke, Pargo’s percentages are terribly low. For his career, he’s connected on 39.5 percent of his field goals and 36.5 of his three-pointers. In his six NBA seasons, Pargo has only shot better than 40 percent twice: 40.7 percent in 2003-04 and 40.9 percent in 2006-07. He’s never shot 40 percent from beyond the arc (his career-high in three-point percentage was 38.8 percent in 2006-07). During the 2007-08 season, Pargo’s Effective Field Goal Percentage on jump shots was 43 percent. His eFG% was only 46 percent when he took the ball to the hoop.
So while Pargo can and will fire it up without hesitation, he’s not a terribly efficient shooter. He’s streaky, though, and he can carry a team with his hot flashes (and kill a team when he goes cold). On an up note, Pargo has hit nearly 85 percent of his career free throws. Unfortunately, he rarely makes it close enough to the rim to draw contact, so he’s averaged only 0.9 free throws in 315 games.
Although Pargo isn’t great at creating open looks for his teammates, he’s a solid passer who can run set plays rarely makes bad decisions. During his last season in the league, Pargo dished out 192 assists while accumulating only 43 “bad pass” turnovers. That works out to 4.5 assists for every pass he throws away. For some perspective on that number, Steve Nash averaged 3.7 assists per bad pass last season.
Pargo is relatively short and slight, which at times can make him a defensive liability. He simply doesn’t have the size or strength necessary to man up against big guards (especially shooting guards) or fight through aggressive picks. Pargo tries hard to make up for his physical limitations by being aggressive, adhering to fundamentals (stance, footwork, staying in front of his man, etc.) and using his quick hands to deflect or steal lazy passes (although, for his career, he averages only 1.2 Steals Per 36 Minutes). Basically, Pargo is a solid defensive point guard as long as he isn’t physically overwhelmed.
During the summer of 2008, Pargo signed a one-year contract withthe Russian Super League team Dynamo Moscow. The following January, he negotiated a buyout from his Russian club and signed with the Greek League club Olympiacos Piraeus. Pargo was released by Olympiacoson May 5 of this year and signed with the Bulls on July 13th. So basically, he missed one full NBA season. Moreover, he averaged only 3.5 points and 1.4 assists per game in the Euroleague, which makes me wonder how he’ll adjust to playing against NBA-level competition again. It’s not a huge deal, because he’ll be playing limited minutes off the bench…but it’s worth noting.
Pargo isn’t big and doesn’t have great hops, but he’s quick, focused and determined. He can handle the ball and initiate the offense, but Pargo is first and foremost a sniper who’s looking to score. His offense runs hot and cold, but that won’t stop him from bombing away. Pargo won’t shoot a high percentage, but he won’t make a lot of stupid mistakes, either. Results may vary, but he will give his all on offense and defense. Pargo doesn’t have what it takes to start on a regular basis, but he’s an effective roleplayer and can provide a spark (not to mention scoring bursts) when coming off the bench.
Update! From Henry Abbott of TrueHoop: “To me his greatest play to date was his reaction to being assaulted by a frustrated Jason Kidd. The Hornets had the game in hand. Pargo went down really hard, but broke his fall, did some kind of dive roll and literally came up clapping. No way his spirit was broken, and he wasn’t about to let Kidd keep him from a great moment of Hornets basketball. The Hornets, of course, won the game and the series.”
Another Update! From Visiting Thunder Fan (Jax): “I’m from OKC, and got to watch Pargo play with CP3 for a year. At first, no one really knew what to expect from him. At first, it seemed like he missed every shot he took, and I thought he’d be the 3rd string guard on a poor team. But, it didn’t take the guy long to turn into a fan favorite. Yes, his jumper started to fall, and he took TONS of shots just to bail his teammates out of a bad offensive play. But it was his attitude that won people over. Pargo is fearless. Last 10 shots didn’t go in? So. We’re down by 20? So. It’s me and four 8th graders against the Dream Team? So. Let me at ’em. The dude’s got an ironclad face and a warriors mentality. That Hornet’s team almost made it .500, but other than CP3 and David West there was no offensive threat (Peja was hurt). Rasual Butler turned into a decent scoring wing that year, but hadn’t been terribly impressive the previous year. At times, there was just no one that seemed to know who to go to or what to do, and Pargo just strong willed the team out of their slumps.”
I couldn’t find any highlight films, but here’s some video of Pargo hitting a trick shot.