Chandler Parsons was deeply missed the seven games he was out with a sprained ankle.
In the three games he's played since he's returned to the starting lineup, Parsons has been the key to the Dallas Mavericks' offensive resurgence. Parsons has averaged 17 points on 57 percent shooting, and scored 22 points in the Mavericks' rout of the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.
Now that Dallas is fully healthy, and can now integrate Amar'e Stoudemire with the rest of the lineup, the Mavericks may have found some hope in the form of Parsons.
That's what we talk about in this week's roundtable. Kirk Henderson and Doyle Rader join me in talking Parsons and how vital he is to Dallas' success the rest of the regular season and the playoffs.
The Mavs went 3-4 without Parsons, and Dallas played its worst stretch of basketball during that time. Now that he's back, do we ignore what happened the last two weeks?
Kirk:We can't just ignore it but perhaps we can choose to focus more on what's ahead as opposed to what just happened. It was brutal without Parsons, but it was also pretty terrible without Tyson Chandler and watching Monta Ellis struggle as he probably played through an injury. The Mavericks are still pretty bad, but they aren't "out of the playoff race" bad.
Doyle:We can't ignore it. Rick Carlisle continually preaches that his players need to be ready. Frankly, they weren't. It became increasingly apparent that there is a steep drop off in scoring talent when Parsons is out. Sure, Richard Jefferson can still put the ball through the nylon but he can be inconsistent at times. As for Al-Farouq Aminu, teams still don't respect his outside shooting. Why should they? He's shooting just 27.2 percent from behind the arc. When Parsons is out, the team struggles. There are lessons to be learned from that instead of brushing it aside.
Danny: As much as we'd like to, we can't. However, the last three games — including the win over the Clippers — provide some clarity that Parsons is 10 times better when he's in the lineup. When he went down, Dallas didn't have any options other than Dirk Nowitzki or Monta Ellis. With both of them struggling heavily, no one could pick up the scoring load. Now that he's back, Dallas can rest easy a bit and see what its capable of when fully healthy and clicking on all cylinders.
With adding Rondo and Stoudemire, it now looks like Parsons is the key to how far Dallas goes this year. How vital is he, and how much does he help Rondo and Stoudemire?
Kirk: He's the second most important player at this point, behind only Tyson Chandler. We all know what Monta Ellis is capable of and I expect he continues coming through for Dallas. Dirk will be Dirk, but at this point I think we should only hope for good things from Nowitzki, not expect them. But Parsons is the big unknown. I think he's capable of a big game like he played against the Clippers, but he's not been consistent enough this season for us to do anything other than speculate.
Doyle: Rajon Rondo has never been a consistent scoring threat. He has his moments but it's peaks and valleys with him. When Parsons is on the floor, it allows Rondo to work in space because Parsons has the ability to stretch the floor. He also presents an effective target for Rondo's passing. Surrounding Rondo with scoring threats is the best way to maximize his play making ability and Parsons is arguably the best scoring threat on the team. Similarly, Parsons' presence grants Amar'e Stoudmire room to operate down low. Whoever is guarding Parsons will think twice about leaving Parsons to double team Amar'e on the blocks. Parsons really allows the Mavericks to space the floor and move the ball.
Danny: Rondo was trying to do way too much with Parsons out of the lineup. When Dirk and Monta struggled like they did, Rondo probably felt it was on him to do more offensively. With Parsons back, and playing well, it gives Rondo a weapon he knows he can get the ball to, whether it be at the 3-point line or cutting to the basket. In regards to Stoudemire, this is where Parsons' height comes into play. Stoudemire can play center with Parsons being that stretch four, presenting matchup problems for opposing teams. Him and Stoudemire could do great things in the pick-and-roll.
Parsons was playing like the Mavs' MVP back in December. With the way Monta and Dirk have struggled, is he going to have to be the No. 1 guy in Dallas the rest of the way for a chance to make a run?
Kirk: No and we shouldn't expect that this season. He's going to have to put up his season averages (which are pretty dang good, by the way) and that should be enough. The Mavericks making a run would require the team firing on all cylinders at the same time, which just hasn't happened very often since Rajon Rondo. Parsons is just one piece of the puzzle.
Doyle: I don't think he has to be the main scoring option. However, if he wants to play like one, I don't think the team will suffer. Recently, it's been Nowitzki who has struggled to score. Parsons returning to the lineup has certainly alleviated some of the scoring issues that Dirk has created. Yet, I still think it is Ellis that is the key to the Mavs' offense. He's playing banged up, as are most of the players at this point in the season, and it's wearing on him. But he's still the team's closer. If Parsons can continue to get off to his hot starts and if Ellis can close the games, the Mavericks may still have a chance at making some noise down the stretch.
Danny: Until Monta proves his hip isn't bothering him and he can start scoring 20-25 points with no problem, Parsons needs to be the guy. He's so versatile offensively that he can be depended on to be Dallas' No. 1 option. Dirk showed last year in the playoffs, and the last few weeks, that it's going to take more than one guy to be the difference maker. A healthy Ellis, plus a healthy Parsons (and, maybe, Playoff Rondo) is enough for Dallas to make a run. But right now, Parsons should be the No. 1 guy until the end of the season, and it would not be a problem.