The Dallas Mavericks mostly remained around the same position in this week’s slate of NBA Power Rankings. NBA analysts praised Luka’s continued improvement as the triple-doubles continue to rack up. Also noted was the Mavericks’ defense, one that remains in the top five in the league. While the Mavericks went 1-2 this week, they were given some slack in the rankings, as they were missing a TON of important role players due to COVID-19 protocols.
Here’s where they stand after five weeks of action:
Last Week: 6
The Mavericks rank fourth in defensive rating this season, and that’s despite Kristaps Porzingis playing only three games. Maxi Kleber, Dwight Powell, and Willie Cauley-Stein have all done an admirable job protecting the paint. New additions like Josh Richardson and James Johnson have helped, too. Doncic also deserves credit for setting a tone with the best effort of his career. Doncic is fighting over screens, diving for loose balls, and rotating with more focus than ever before.
“He’s one of our best defenders at the end of games,” Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle recently said. It’s the truth, which is a dramatic change from last season, when Doncic had plenty of lackadaisical moments on that end of the floor. Doncic and the Mavs came into training camp preaching defense and they’re walking the walk. If the Mavs start winning more games, Doncic’s improvements on defense should put him in the discussion to win his first MVP.
Kristaps Porzingis is back just in time for a burgeoning Mavericks team. They’ve won three straight. And even as many agree Luka Doncic is still playing his way into shape, he’s averaging 27.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.3 assists. The defense has impressed and, frighteningly, the offense still has footing to find.
Last Week: 10
Luka Doncic has triple-doubles in four of the Mavs’ past six tilts. He missed triple-doubles by one assist and one rebound in the other games. His averages in that six-game span: 31.5 points, 12.2 rebounds and 11.8 assists. Doncic now has 29 career triple-doubles, tying Grant Hill for 15th all time, one more than Michael Jordan. — MacMahon
Last Week: 8
It’s not a good time for the Mavs to be so beset by injuries and COVID-19-related absences. Their loss to the Bulls on Sunday, in which they were without six rotation guys, was the start of a stretch where they’re are scheduled to play 12 games (with four back-to-backs) in 19 days. It’s also not good that, despite 36 points, 16 rebounds and 15 assists from Luka Doncic, the aforementioned stretch began with a 16-point loss to a team that had lost four straight. But it’s encouraging that the Dallas defense remains in the top five after a couple of games in which there wasn’t much offense beyond that which Doncic produced.
Last Week: 13
The Mavericks’ substantial defensive improvement is flying under the radar. Dallas ranks fourth in the Association with a 105.9 defensive rating and should improve thanks to Kristaps Porzingis’ rim protection.
Last Week: 13
The Mavericks’ four-game winning streak came to an end against Milwaukee, and they followed that up with a bad loss to Chicago. But in the good news department, Kristaps Porzingis returned from a meniscus tear. In his first three games, he looked good, averaging 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds.
The return of Porzingis just means more space for Luka Doncic to attack. Since his return, Doncic is averaging a triple-double with 32.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 12.3 assists while shooting 44.4 percent from three.
Even though they gave up 117 points to the Bulls, the Mavs have been much improved on the defensive end this season. They are fourth in defensive rating, and if they can get their offense back to its historically good level from last season, the sky is the limit.
Last Week: 7
Kristaps Porzingis returned for the Mavericks this week, but they played all three games without key rotation players due to health and safety protocols. Porzingis looked expectedly rusty, averaging 17 points and 7.3 rebounds on 26 percent 3-point shooting in three games, but meanwhile Luka Doncic put up an incredible week. The early MVP candidate averaged 32.7 points, 12.7 rebounds and 12.3 assists while shooting 44 percent on nine 3-point attempts per game this week, but he was only able to lead his team to one win.