Postgame: Chandler Parsons

Mavs F Chandler Parsons comments on his season-high 21 points in Wednesday's win over the Pelicans.

When Chandler Parsons is more involved in the offense, the Mavericks are a better team.

Parsons had a season-high 82 touches in Wednesday’s win over the Pelicans, the most he’s had in a game all season, per SportVU. Dallas is 6-1 when Parsons has at least 50 touches in a game and 11-4 when he gets at least 40. When he either doesn’t play or doesn’t reach the 40-touch plateau, the Mavericks are 10-11.

Of course the team’s success doesn’t solely boil down to whether or not Parsons touches the ball. There are 14 other players on the team whose own level of performance can potentially dictate the outcome of the game. But there’s no other Maverick on the roster with such severe splits in his numbers as Parsons. It’s not just a matter of the 6-foot-10 forward being on. It’s all about getting him involved.

Parsons is one of the rare wings in the NBA with excellent size, ball-handling, playmaking, and finishing ability. In space, he can be extremely dangerous, which is why both he and the Mavs felt this summer like he was ready to take on a greater workload within the offense. However, a knee injury late last season derailed his summer workout plans and instead he was forced to focus on low-stress activity like core work, bike riding, and yoga. The forward told Mavs.com early in the summer that all of the non-basketball stuff would benefit him more than you might think, however, specifically citing “opening” his hips up to help his balance and core strength as he moves around the court.

It’s difficult to pinpoint in terms of basketball a single example in highlight form of what he’s talking about, but now that Parsons’ athletic burst is beginning to catch up with the mental side of the game, he’s starting to put up terrific stat lines. Wednesday in New Orleans, he scored 21 points, grabbed 8 rebounds, and dished out 6 assists. The Mavericks are now 10-0 all-time when Parsons reaches the 5-assist mark.

He was magnificent in the first half, especially when it came to attacking and finishing at the rim. He even drove around Pelicans megastar Anthony Davis multiple times, using his infamous pump fake to get the big man off-balance before beating him for a layup.

AD fakes

Balance and agility are both big factors on plays like the one below, when Parsons makes a cut which I can’t remember other Mavs making this season.

Cut to middle

Parsons makes a cut along the baseline off a JaVale McGee screen and makes himself available on the wing. However, he notices Dante Cunningham is a few steps behind him, so Parsons immediately changes direction and cuts right back into the middle of the lane, opening himself up toward the rim and absorbing the contact before finishing with his off-hand. Remember: He’s 6-foot-10. There aren’t many guys in the league his size who can make these kinds of plays, yet Parsons makes them look rather routine.

When you’re talking about a player like Parsons, though, starting with his ability around the rim is almost burying the lede. He’s most dangerous in space with the ball in his hands, where he can make plays like this.

Attack pass

He does Cunningham dirty here, first duping him with a fake backdoor cut and then pump-faking him out of the play once he makes the catch. Then, Parsons draws Davis’ attention before dumping it off to Charlie Villanueva at the rim for an easy layup.

And then, of course, there’s the alley-oop game out of the pick-and-roll with McGee. Those two have already developed very good chemistry despite having only shared the floor a few times this season. If a screener or cut can take Parsons’ man out of the picture, he has such a good feel for finding the exact moment to make the pass.

Alley oops

All of these plays are relatively simple, but that’s kind of the point. It doesn’t require incredible Xs and Os to put Parsons in a position where he and his teammates can be successful, which is why he’s so valuable on this team. The Mavs don’t run many plays at all, and most of the ones they do run are just a few cuts and screens which lead to a standard pick-and-roll anyway.

This means there’s always a chance for Parsons not only to get a touch, but to make a play. Since the beginning of December, teammates are shooting 50.6 percent from the field following a Parsons pass — highest on the team among rotation players — and 42.4 percent on 3s. The more he’s involved, the better the Mavs become.

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