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Week 8 Power Rankings: The Mavericks sit firmly in the bottom half

Dallas will need to string together some wins to move up in the rankings.

Golden State Warriors v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks were unable to rise in this week’s Power Rankings after their 2-2 week. Analysts are still waiting to see a Dallas team that can build a winning streak and take care of weaker opponents. Luckily, the roster is at full strength and the offense has looked much better over the last two games.

As a reminder, these rankings don’t really mean anything in terms of playoff seeding, but it’s always interesting to see what the non-Mavericks homers media has to say about the team. Here are where they currently stand:

NBA.com

Rank: 18

Last Week: 18

Prior to Thursday, there were four games in NBA history where both teams made at least 20 3-pointers. Then, over the course of three days, the Mavs and Warriors made it six, combining to shoot 83-for-185 (45%) from beyond the arc over their two-game series. Dallas recovered from a second-half shellacking in the first game and withstood Stephen Curry’s 57 points on Saturday to earn a split.

That top-five defense that the Mavs had through the first four weeks of the season is long gone. They went from top five to bottom five in three weeks. But at least the offense is picking up, with the last three games (121 points scored per 100 possessions) being their most efficient stretch of the season. Luka Doncic has been getting to the line, they’ve kept their turnovers down, and they’ve shot 39% from 3-point range, with six guys hitting at least six 3-pointers over the three games. Doncic got a couple of catch-and-shoot 3-pointers late in the win on Saturday (only 30 of his 164 3-point attempts have been off the catch), before drawing a double-team and finding Maxi Kleber for the dagger.

The Mavs have five more games left on their homestand, and four of the five are against teams that rank in the bottom 10 defensively.

The Ringer

Rank: 18

Last Week: 8

Is this the season Luka becomes a villain? Are we at that point already? ESPN’s Zach Lowe said last week on The Lowe Post that Luka constantly whines, a comment that became a topic on morning shows (and drew the ire of team owner Mark Cuban). Lowe is 100 percent correct that Doncic complains a lot, but I personally don’t mind it. I’d be whining too if I was averaging 28-9-9 in my third NBA season after winning titles at every other stage of my career, but my team is in 14th place in the conference. There’s a lot to complain about. The Mavs are last in 3-point percentage and Kristaps Porzingis looks like a shell of his former self. Defensive effort isn’t at the level it needs to be, from Luka included. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and on Saturday, Dallas played its best overall game of the season, with Luka leading the way with 42 points in a win over the Warriors.

But during an epic game, this happened:

Gulp. A James Harden–esque drawn foul. Some fans and media on NBA Twitter ripped Luka and called him a flopper. I find that blame to be misplaced. Doncic, Harden, and every other player who uses these moves isn’t breaking any rules—and that’s the problem, as Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “I fault the league for basically gifting those calls to all our players. Our guys get them, too,” Kerr told reporters. “To me, it’s not a basketball play. If you jump 3 feet forward, I don’t think you deserve a foul when all you’re doing is looking for a foul.”

* Note: I’m not sure why these off-court/negative attention type arguments are being used to justify a Power Rankings position. Also, anyone who says Luka’s defense is the problem this season hasn’t been watching Mavericks games. Anyways, let’s continue:

CBS Sports

Rank: 18

Last Week: 23

The Mavericks went 2-2 this week, and the energy looks to be returning as the team gets healthy. They allowed 147 points to the Warriors on Thursday, but got revenge on Saturday in one of the most entertaining games of the season. Luka Doncic has been on another planet recently, averaging 30.3 points and 9.8 assists on 43 percent 3-point shooting for the week. Kristaps Porzingis has struggled at times, but he’s starting to get more consistent minutes, which should eventually help him find a rhythm.

ESPN

Rank: 21

Last Week: 20

Luka Doncic put the finishing touches on his 42-point, 11-assist masterpiece on Saturday by dishing to Maxi Kleber for the dagger 3. It was a moment that illustrated the importance of Kleber, who recently returned from an 11-game absence due to COVID-19. Kleber is arguably Dallas’ best defender and the most accurate 3-point shooter (45.8%) on the league’s least accurate 3-point shooting team. — MacMahon

Bleacher Report

Rank: 25

Last Week: 20

It was easy to blame a lot of the Dallas Mavericks’ losses on COVID-19 protocols, but they went just 2-2 last week and have lost seven of their last nine games.

This season’s offense pales in comparison to last season’s historic unit. To make matters worse, the Mavs have the league’s worst defensive rating (118.9). They got completely destroyed by the Golden State Warriors in the first game of their miniseries, giving up 147 points.

Dallas got the win it desperately needed against Golden State two nights later behind a 42-point, 11-assist night from Luka Doncic. It had six players in double figures that game. Sitting four games below .500, Dallas will have to get its act together on both ends of the floor to climb in the standings.