Getty Images | Danny Bollinger

It’s been a frustrating season for Chandler Parsons, who is averaging just 8.4 points on 44 percent shooting this season as he continues to work his way back from offseason hybrid microfracture surgery. Dealing with a challenging 25-minute restriction set by the team’s medical staff for most of the season, Parsons has struggled to shoot consistently, leading the Mavs to take a stab at using him as the team’s sixth-man off the bench.

In six games off the bench, Parsons has averaged just 8.2 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting just 35 percent, including 33 percent from downtown with a minus-3.7 efficiency rating. In 13 games as a starter, he’s averaging 8.5 points and 2.8 rebounds on 48 percent shooting, including 33 percent from behind the arc, while playing in 19.9 minutes per game with a minus-0.8 efficiency rating.

While the statistics show that individually Parsons may be better suited as a starter, collectively the Mavs have been better off with Parsons coming off the bench. In fact, the Mavs have the best starting rotation in the NBA among groups that have played at least 100 minutes together according to NBA.com. Starters Zaza Pachulia, Dirk Nowitzki, Wesley Matthews, Raymond Felton and Deron Williams have a Net Rating (difference between the offensive and defensive rating) of plus-20.0. With Parsons starting in place of Felton, the Mavs lineup is 30th in the NBA with a Net Rating of minus-6.6.

Sometime next month, Parsons’ minute restriction is expected to be lifted and he’ll likely return to his natural role in the starting lineup.

“My real season starts in January once I’m full strength and playing my normal minutes,” Parsons said while being limited to just 21 minutes per night this season after averaging 34 minutes a night for his career.

The hope is that Parsons can eventually shoot his way into form as the regular season moves along. While it’s safe to rule out a Rondo-type blockbuster trade before the league’s February trade deadline, the Mavs will likely be thrown into the conversation for smaller deals for three-point shooters like Minnesota Timberwolves veteran Kevin Martin (12.7 PPG, 35% three-point shooting) as they continue to struggle shooting from behind the arc.

A deal for a player of Martin’s caliber could certainly be beneficial for the Mavs, especially if Rick Carlisle intends to have Parsons move back into the starting lineup once he’s fully healthy. Either way, the Mavericks will need Parsons’ shooting once the playoffs roll around, especially for a team that has struggled to shoot from downtown. Currently, the team is 26th in the league from behind the three-point line (32%). That’s the lowest in franchise history since the 1994-95 season.

Whether he’s coming off the bench or in the starting lineup, Parsons’ play will be one of the biggest keys for the Mavs moving into the playoffs. In a packed Western Conference, he along with the rest of the team, will need to find their shooting stroke sooner rather than later if they want to have a legitimate chance of competing for their first division title since the 2009-10 season.

Quotes via ESPN.Dallas

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