The Dallas Mavericks by all means have exceeded expectations through the first 33 games of the season as they sit fifth place in the Western Conference standings at 19-15. While many analysts and experts predicted the Mavs to be at the basement of the Western Conference they’ve instead been able to showcase how important great coaching and team chemistry is to any team roster.
Zaza Pachulia, Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews have all played at or exceeded expectation levels heading into this season most of all Pachulia who came as the ‘boobie’ prize of the off-season after the departure of Tyson Chandler. Wesley Matthews has had his ups and downs as he comes back from his Achilles injury but his leadership and defensive prowess is on display every single game and his shooting has improved. Before the recent injury bug to his hamstring Deron Williams looked every bit rejuvenated and looks the part of a Rick Carlisle type of point guard in Carlisle’s offensive system. Raymond Felton might be the biggest surprise of them all and has played very well for long stretches throughout the year.
Of course you can’t overlook the big German Dirk Nowitzki and how he’s been able to play at such a high efficient level even at 37 years young but at this point are we really surprised by anything Dirk does?
Now while the Mavericks record is still very respectable at 19-15 and while they are sitting 5th in a weaker than expected Western Conference the Mavericks are in need of a spark as the calendar has flipped to 2016. Since starting the season off at 9-4 the Mavs are only 10-11 since then and are coming off less than desirable back to back losses to the Miami Heat and the New Orleans Pelicans. A large part of that can be contributed to them playing harder competition then their early schedule permitted and much like last year not being able to match up with the higher seeded teams on a night in and night out basis. Rick Carlisle has done another magnificent head coaching job thus far but in the end players win games and the Mavericks need one particular player to find his rhythm, in particular Chandler Parsons.
Everyone in the Mavs organization want Chandler Parsons to be ‘the guy’ that can help relieve the offensive pressure off of Dirk and take that next step forward into All-Star relevancy. After all if you look through the Mavs roster Parsons is only 27 years old and has yet to hit his prime, the potential is there if he is indeed good enough. Last year was his first season with Dallas and he posted a career-high 16.3 PER despite his knee injury occurring down the stretch of the season. It resulted he needed hybrid micro-fracture surgery and while he’s come back sooner than expected he’s still trying to find his game.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, Parsons had been on a minute per game restriction that certainly disrupted his timing on the court and that hurts a player that relies on his jump shot and driving ability as much as Chandler does.
Parson’s prowess on the offensive side of the court relies heavily on his jump shooting ability. When his shot is not falling, his whole game suffers. Defenders don’t close out as much, leaving him less opportunity to beat them off the dribble. Parson’s versatility comes from his quickness and explosion to the basket, his exceptional court vision, and his shooting range. But with all the missed games, limited minutes, and new bench role affecting his rhythm, Parsons numbers have suffered.
Overall through 27 games, Parsons is averaging only 8.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists while shooting 34 percent from three. On the bright side, the fact that Dallas has done so well with Parsons being virtually invisible so far is positive for the second half of the season.
Dallas needs Parsons to regain his form and rhythm because when he’s playing at his highest level he provides a balance and play-making ability the Mavericks sorely lack at the small forward position. The three guard lineup for Carlisle has worked for various stretches but it’s not enough against some of the more elite teams in the NBA. Also they need Parsons to relieve some minutes off of Nowitzki and some of the older veterans on the Mavs starting lineup. His young legs can then take on a heavier scoring load and allow Nowitzki to take his needed nights off without the Mavericks missing a beat.
Prior to the recent two game skid Parsons had played over 30 minutes per game five times. Not coincidentally, the Mavericks are 5-0 with victories over Memphis, Chicago, and Golden State, albeit without Stephen Curry. Averaging 13.0 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 5.6 assists in 34.0 minutes per game, Parsons showcased what the Mavs had been missing and needed to take the next step from a welcome surprise team to playoff threat.
The Mavericks need to look to create easy scoring opportunities for Parsons early on and help him re-gain some of his confidence and to open up the floor for others to flourish. It’s hard for anyone outside of the Mavs medical staff to know just how healthy Parsons is but a 100% Chandler Parsons is key for the Mavericks season success.