Since 2011’s magical Championship season, Dirk Nowitzki‘s sidekicks have taken many different forms. Up until Monta Ellis signed with the team in 2013 there was no second scorer on the Mavericks since they had multiple second efforts coming from a deep roster. Lamar Odom? Quit. O.J. Mayo? Not good at basketball. Deron Williams and Dwight Howard? Didn’t come. Rajon Rondo? Whoops. DeAndre Jordan? Sigh.
While Monta Ellis was certainly a consolation prize –and really only signed after a failed physical from Devin Harris— he was easily the best Robin to Dirk’s Batman in multiple seasons. It was something the Mavericks desperately needed, and they ended up returning to the NBA Playoffs as a result of it.
In 2014, the Mavericks signed Chandler Parsons to a near-max contract and signed Wesley Matthews to a fully maximum deal in 2015. These were the pieces Mark Cuban was entrusting to help Dirk Nowitzki chase another title in his golden years.
Of course, that was more a dream than an actual expectation and now the goal for the Mavericks is simply to make the NBA Playoffs and perhaps win their first series since 2011. The Mavs were swept by Oklahoma City in 2012, took the Champion Spurs to a seventh game in 2013 and in 2014 lost to the Rockets 4-1 in a Series defined by the stupidity it provided on Twitter.
The game plan of landing the “Big Fish” to build around and help Dirk Nowitzki was now transformed into a Plan B consisting of putting secondary parts around Nowitzki with the hopes that one, particularly Parsons, could develop into a number one option.
Entering this season, Dallas had brought back Deron Williams as part of a Renaissance Project and dealt a second round pick for the undervalued Zaza Pachulia. Even though Deron has fulfilled such renaissance To a T (I know) and Zaza Pachulia has been an even bigger surprise to the 99% of NBA fans who didn’t know he existed, the help Dirk Nowitzki needs falls on the shoulders of the Mavericks starting shooting guard and small forward.
It’s no coincidence that the two highest paid players on the team –and the past two summer’s big signings– are expected to provide the 37-year old future Hall of Famer with his main source of support.
For most of this season, they haven’t been that. On top of this, both were coming back from major injuries and have seen their production affected by them.
Wesley Matthews had a good February and a great December but around those two months he’s experiencing his worst season since his rookie season in Utah. Wes is averaging a career low 12.5 PPG and his 36% three point percentage is easily the worst mark of his seven season career. Total field goals are under 40% for the first time and really everything is down.
Even though Matthews had some incredible seasons with the Trail Blazers, he is in fact a role player. But so was Parsons in Houston. With Dallas, the hope was he expanded into more.
In year one he didn’t, and year two had been a mess until February came around and physically Parsons looked healthy and mentally looked to finally be in the right place.
Pre-February Chandler Parsons was averaging a pathetic 12 PPG with 4.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Then February came around and the 27-year old Parsons averaged 18.8 points a game. His best season average was his walk year in Houston with 16.6. CP25 also finally started to hit the glass, averaging five rebounds a game. But most impressive and most important (aside the obvious points) change was his massive and so-very welcomed spike in efficiency.
With more confidence came more shots and more production. Chandsome shot 52% in February. But what really stood out was his improved free throw percentage (62 % to 85%) and his ridiculous 48% from three-point range.
While Wesley Matthews starts to settle into being a reliable third option, the biggest development for the Mavericks in recent weeks has been the major uptick in production for Chandler Parsons. Parsons play has allowed Dirk Nowitzki to do what Tim Duncan is doing in San Antonio, not having to lead a team, putting them on his shoulders in his final seasons. Father time is undefeated after all, even though he’s never seen competition as stiff as Dirk Nowitzki.
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