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Week 16 power rankings: Another rung up the ladder

A perfect 4-0 week puts the Mavericks ahead of some contending names.

Dallas Mavericks v Washington Wizards Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks continued to shine in this week’s edition of Power Rankings, maintaining their top-10 spot across the board and pulling ahead of some other great teams like the Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Heat. Analysts noted the fantastic perimeter shooting by Luka Doncic, the ascension of Jalen Brunson, and Kristaps Porzingis’s growing impact on defense.

The road from here is anything but easy, especially since the teams above the Mavericks are rounding into form themselves, and getting out of the play-in situation will require some significant work. Let’s see how the Mavericks trended this season:

Here’s what the power rankings had to say about the Mavericks this week:

The Ringer

Rank: 6

Last Week: 7

Luka Doncic has tried 3.95 stepback 3s per game and makes them at an excellent 38.8 percent. This number is up significantly from 34.6 percent over his first two seasons. It has become his most unstoppable shot.

Only James Harden attempts more stepback 3s than Luka this season. They are the only players to ever attempt more than three stepback 3s per game, and no one has taken them from deeper than Doncic. This season, Luka’s stepback 3s are from an average distance of 27.3 feet, which is the deepest in history, according to Second Spectrum.

Luka is stretching the limits of his jumper, which makes it even harder for defenders to stop him. If they play him up close when he’s 3 feet behind the arc, it can only open more driving lanes for him to dribble into the paint, where he’s also lethal as both a scorer and a playmaker. The Mavericks are fighting for the sixth seed to avoid the play-in tournament, rather than the West’s top spot like some predicted in preseason, but Luka has gotten better; that alone makes this season a win.

CBS Sports

Rank: 8

Last Week: 10

After losing two straight, the Mavericks rattled off four consecutive wins this week and have now won seven of their last 10. Luka Doncic had 36 points in the Mavs’ biggest win of the week in Boston, and averaged 28.3 points for the week on 41 percent 3-point shooting. Jalen Brunson continued his phenomenal season off the bench, putting up 16 points and 4.5 assists on 40 percent 3-point shooting during the win streak.

Bleacher Report

Rank: 8

Last Week: 10

The Mavericks only lost on their five-game road trip game with both Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis out. Since then Dallas has reeled off four straight with Doncic playing at a high level. He shot 55.1 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from three, which led to him averaging 28.3 points.

Besides Doncic’s offensive run, the Mavs defense has been at another level. Dallas’ defensive rating was 97.4 last week, a big improvement over its 111.4 defensive rating for the season.

Going undefeated last week has the Mavericks moving up the power rankings. They have some work to do to catch the Blazers to get out of the play-in tournament but can make up ground with nine of their next 11 games coming at home.

Rank: 8

Last Week: 9

It was noted in this space last week that the Mavs’ minutes with Luka Doncic off the floor have been the bigger reason for their offensive drop-off from last season. But over the last seven days, Jalen Brunson started fixing the problem, averaging 16 points and 4.5 assists as the Mavs won the last four games of a five-game trip. The Mavs have outscored their opponents by 78 points, scoring more than 120 per 100 possessions, in Brunson’s 107 minutes on the floor over the winning streak.

Among 146 players with at least 300 field goal attempts in each of the last two seasons, Brunson has seen the fourth biggest jump in effective field goal percentage (from 52.2% to 60.5%). His jumper has been better and his field goal percentage in the paint (where he’s taken more than half his shots) has gone from 53.1% to 62.6% (29th among 161 players with at least 150 paint attempts). He torched the Celtics for 21 points on Wednesday (plowing through Marcus Smart at one point) and had one really tough (and pretty) finish with his right hand in New York on Friday.

The Mavs have just 10 games remaining against teams that currently have winning records, and five of the 10 (four at home and including visits from the Jazz, Bucks and Sixers) are in the next 10 days.


Rank: 10

Last Week: 10

The Mavs went 4-1 on their longest road trip of the season, finishing with a four-game winning streak after Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis sat out the trip’s opener. The Mavs have won 18 of their past 25 games, giving them the league’s fourth-best winning percentage in that span, to soar from five games under to six games above .500. The development of Jalen Brunson into one of the league’s best backup point guards has been a big part of Dallas’ success. He has averaged 13.7 points and 4.1 assists with a 64.2 true shooting percentage during the 25-game span. — MacMahon

Check back in next week to see where the Mavericks sit after big games against the Milwaukee Bucks and Utah Jazz.