The Dallas Mavericks continued their upward trend over the month of February, climbing to their highest positions across the NBA Power Rankings since the season began. Analysts noted Luka Doncic’s continued improvements, especially in shooting, as well as better defense and clutch offense.
Here’s a look at their trend throughout the season:
Let’s take a look at what the Power Rankings had to say about the Mavericks this week:
Last Week: 14
The Mavs lost to the 76ers without Kristaps Porzingis, but beat the Celtics and Nets to make it seven wins in their last nine games. Luka Doncic has been great, as usual, but Jalen Brunson — averaging 16.5 points on 53 percent 3-point shooting this week — has really stepped up as the primary playmaker with Doncic on the bench. Porzingis returned in Saturday’s win over the Nets, putting up 18 points and three blocks.
Last Week: 13
The Mavs came up empty offensively in Philadelphia on Thursday, but are 7-2 over the last 3 1/2 weeks with Luka Doncic averaging 31.6 points on an effective field goal percentage of 61%. He’s seemingly found his 3-point stroke, shooting 25-for-50 from beyond the arc over the last six games and draining two step-back 3s in the final 20 seconds to beat the Celtics on Tuesday.
Minutes with Doncic off the floor have also been improved over the last few weeks. Tim Hardaway Jr. has taken well to his move to the bench and Jalen Brunson is probably playing the best basketball of his career, averaging 15.9 points on an effective field goal percentage of 64% over the last seven. The Mavs closed the win over Boston with three reserves — Brunson, Hardaway and Willie Cauley-Stein — on the floor.
They still need Kristaps Porzingis, who returned from a three-game absence and scored 11 points on post-ups in Brooklyn on Saturday. With games against the Magic and Thunder this week, the Mavs (who were 8-13 a month ago) have a serious chance to going into the break with a winning record.
Last Week: 17
The Mavericks moved to .500 and played well last week, going 3-1 with some nice wins.
Luka Doncic was unbelievable for the whole month, averaging 30.3 points, 8.3 assists and 7.1 rebounds while shooting 43.5 percent from three. Look no further than his game-winning three against the Celtics for proof. Kristaps Porzingis is continuing to play better, as he put up 22.2 points per game in nine games last month.
But it has not just been Luka and Porzingis playing well for Dallas. Several role players have stepped up in February. Tim Hardaway Jr. is thriving in a new role as a sixth man and could make a run at the offseason award. Then there is Jalen Brunson, who has quietly become one of the players Rick Carlisle turns to in close games. He shot 40.9 percent from three in February.
More importantly for the Mavs, they are better defensively when he is on the floor with a defensive rating of 108.6.
Last Week: 16
Dallas is 9-9 when Kristaps Porzingis plays this season and 7-7 when he sits, but the Mavs are encouraged by his progress as he works his way into shape following offseason knee surgery. “I thought his rim protection and defense were the best that they’ve been all year,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said after Porzingis blocked three shots in Saturday’s win over Brooklyn in his return after missing three games because of lower back tightness. — MacMahon
Check back in next week (if an All-Star Break edition of Power Rankings is actually released) to see if the Mavericks can continue this progress.