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Chandler Parsons and the Promise of Potential

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Oct 24, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Dallas Mavericks forward Chandler Parsons (25) dunks against the Orlando Magic during the second quarter at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Chandler Parsons might be the most enticing player the Dallas Mavericks have ever signed. His acquisition drew heaps of praise for a front office that had struggled to land the big fish. While most conceded that the team had likely overpaid to some degree, it was worth it to get a player of his caliber who could grow into a star player with his new team.

It also brought something relatively new to the Dallas locker room. For a team that for so long had leaned heavily on established veterans, here was a relatively young player, showing signs of promise but not yet at his peak. Dirk Nowitzki has long been the face of the franchise, and will continue to be until that dark day he finally decides to hang them up for good. With Dirk, you know what you are getting, it’s part of what makes him so valuable. Games where he is completely shut out are few and far between, and you can almost set your watch by those picturesque one-legged fadeaways.

To some extent, the same can be said for Monta Ellis and Tyson Chandler, the other Chandler acquired this off-season. Both were, to some extent, reclamation projects. Monta was mired in a losing situation in Milwaukee and had the ‘chucker’ albatross firmly around his neck. Tyson was also in a bad spot in New York, and had been bitten by the injury bug again. Despite these circumstances, both of these players were known entities, and the Mavs knew more or less what to expect from these guys almost every night. Tyson can anchor a defense and finish around the rim with the best of them, and Monta is one of the best penetrators and finishers in the league. Even with the blemishes on their records prior to coming here, these guys were established.

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The same can be said for most of the Mavericks roster in recent years. Wily veterans like Vince Carter and Shawn Marion came to typify the Mavericks teams. What you saw was what you had, basically, as most of the players soaking up minutes had been plying their trade for a number of years.

This brings us back to what is different, exciting and sometimes terribly frustrating about Parsons. We do not know how good he can be yet. Neither does he. More than most other players on the roster, Parsons has vacillated between “oh god, why did we sign this guy for $46 million” and “he could be the future face of the franchise”.

Looking at his game logs illustrates this roller coaster ride. He underwhelmed in his debut game against the Spurs, going for only 5 points on 2-10 shooting. The next three games he was everything the Mavs had hoped he could be when Mark Cuban watched him sign the offer sheet at the club, going for over 20 points each game, culminating in a stellar performance against the Celtics, going for 29 points on only 15 shots. Then promptly going for 20 points total over his next three games. So goes the roller coaster of potential.

Mavericks’ fans can be forgiven if they have trouble recalling this feeling. It has been a long time since there was a

player with this type of as-yet-unrealized promise. Recent drafts have underwhelmed (glad you’re doing well on the

Rodrigue Beaubois puts up a shot against the Trailblazers. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Knicks though Shane Larkin!), and you might have to go back to one-time sensation Rodrigue Beaubois, who tantalized Mavs fans by shooting 50-40-80 in limited burn his rookie season. Unfortunately, that potential never really materialized. A string of unfortunate  injuries derailed some of his upward trajectory, but he also failed to capitalize on that potential in his time on the court to some extent. Roddy was last seen trying to play his way onto a team in the summer league, without much success.

This is not to say that this will be Parsons’ fate. Parsons already contributes much more than Beaubois ever did, and if he stagnated at his current levels, he would still be a productive player. I hope, and think that he will eventually develop into an all-star caliber player and ease the transition into a bleak Dirk-less world. At the same time, he will have to develop into that player.

That’s the thing about promise and potential, it’s not yet realized. So there will undoubtedly be plays, and even whole games, where we will all wonder what Parsons is doing and whether we would have been better off rolling the dice with a safer, cheaper option like Trevor Ariza.

So far, we have seen both the good and the bad in Chandler Parsons. Looking at his game splits, his Net Rating (Offensive Rating – Defensive Rating) is 18.8 in wins and -2.2 in losses. In this young season, as he goes, so does the team. At times, this will be frustrating.

Both he and the team fall short on occasion. But there are those times when everything comes together, and the offense is looking like an unstoppable  juggernaut with Parsons doing everything from  hitting the boards to draining 3’s to floating lobs to Tyson. When we can see flashes of the player we all hope he can become, the future looks bright.

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