Nowitzki and Ellis were the least impressive of the Mavs' starters during Monday's 107-80 blowout win over the Charlotte Hornets.
It's not that they were bad, although they weren't as efficient as usual. Ellis scored a team-high 18 points but was only 7-of-17 from the floor. Nowitzki added 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting, joining Karl Malone, Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant as the only players in NBA history to score 27,000 points with one team in the process.
But this performance could serve as a template of what the Mavs need from their three new starters to make a deep playoff run. Chandler, Parsons and Nelson each excelled in their role, allowing Nowitzki to watch the fourth quarter from the bench for the third consecutive game.
"We've got to have balance," coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. "It can't all come from one guy. We can't put the whole game on Dirk's shoulders or Monta's shoulders or anything like that."
The Mavs gave Parsons a three-year, $46 million deal because they viewed him as a versatile foundation piece just entering his prime. He looked the part against the Hornets, stuffing the box score with 17 points on 5-of-10 shooting and nine rebounds and six assists.
Dallas dealt for Chandler with the expectation that he could be everything they've missed from their starting centers since the Mavs let him leave following the 2011 title run. In short, they need him to defend, finish around the rim and rebound. He played 23 dominant minutes in Charlotte before joining Nowitzki on the pine for the fourth quarter. He had 14 points on 7-of-7 shooting/dunking, grabbed nine rebounds and held star Hornets big man Al Jefferson to six points on 3-of-12 shooting.
The hope for Nelson, a bargain-bin signing for the cap-room exception of $2.7 million, was that the 10-year veteran could be a solid, steady point guard for the Mavs. He got off to a slow statistical start, but Nelson showed what he's capable of Monday with by far his best performance of the season. An 11-point, 4-of-6-shooting, 8-assist, 2-steal, 1-turnover line will do just fine.
Nowitzki and Ellis are a good enough duo to get the Mavs to the playoffs but need a lot of help to do any damage once the postseason starts. Plenty of capable company came to Dallas this offseason.
If this performance is the standard for the Mavs' summer additions, they'll be busy deep into the spring.