clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NBA Power Rankings Watch: the Mavericks are holding steady

The suddenly defensive-minded Mavericks have had an impressive start to 2022.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Orlando Magic v Dallas Mavericks Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks were run off the floor in New York last week against the Knicks, the first time in a while that the team looked fully disinterested and unprepared for a game. But they bounced back nicely against the red-hot Memphis Grizzlies Friday, and took care of business Saturday against the Orlando Magic.

For now, the Mavericks’ standing among national media has stabilized. While the offense has yet to fully find a fourth gear, the defense has been downright impressive. Here is where some other sites see the Mavericks:

ESPN

Rank: 10

Last week: 10

The Mavs are racking up wins despite Luka Doncic going through a bit of a shooting slump after his return from an extended absence due to ankle soreness and entering health and safety protocols. He is averaging 22 points while shooting 40.1% from the floor and 19.1% from 3-point range during the 7-1 run. But Doncic has played a role in Dallas’ dominant defensive effort. The Mavs are allowing 97.1 points per 100 possessions — and 93.7 with Doncic on the floor — in that span. — MacMahon

The Athletic

Rank: 11 (Playoff Hopeful)

Last week: 10

First-quarter Grade: B- | Ranked 17th

Halfway-point Grade: B+

While I’ve had plenty of concerns with this team and with the lack of conditioning Luka Doncic has shown this season, they’re in a really good position at the halfway point. The Dallas Mavericks have been all over the map, but we’ve seen some very impressive wins over Golden State, Chicago and Memphis to ruin their victory parades for their respective seasons. The Mavs are a top-five defense in the league right now, and they have the best defense in the NBA over their last 15 games. If the team can get some consistency out of the offense, they might even be able to make a run to challenge Memphis or even Utah for first-round home-court advantage.

Prediction Update? I predicted the very subjective “Kristaps Porzingis will have his best season” for this season’s Mavs prediction. Porzingis has been pretty good, but it’s hard to say it’s been his best season. He’s also missed a bunch of games. But now that he’s out of protocol, I could see him having a second-half surge to push the overall vibe of this season into being the best one of his career. He’ll need to improve upon that career-worst 29.0 percent 3-point accuracy, but Porzingis just needs more time and rhythm on the court in the second half of the campaign.

NBA

Rank: 11

Last week: 10

Two nights after their own winning streak came to an end (with an ugly offensive performance) in New York, the Mavs ended the Grizzlies’ 11-game streak in Memphis, holding what was the league’s fourth-ranked offense to just 85 points on 99 possessions. That was Memphis’ least efficient output of the season and the Mavs are also responsible for two of the other 11 times that the Grizzlies have been held under 102 per 100. Dallas won just two of its first 11 games against the other 15 teams that currently have winning records, but (even with the loss in New York) it’s won six of its last nine against that group.

Luka Doncic had a triple-double and a season-high 20 points in the paint against the Grizzlies, but has shot just 9-for-47 (19%) from 3-point range since he returned from his ankle injury at the start of the month. Jalen Brunson has remained in the starting lineup since Doncic’s return and there have certainly been good offensive moments with the two on the floor together, but the Mavs have scored exactly one point per possession in 140 minutes with the two on the floor together in January. In 248 total minutes with one on the floor without the other, they’ve scored 113.2 per 100 with much better defensive numbers too.

With their win over Orlando on Saturday, the Mavs are tied with Toronto for the best record (5-2) in the second games of back-to-backs. They’ll face the Raptors in the first game of a back-to-back this week, with the Suns having a rest advantage on Thursday. Doncic missed both of their games in Phoenix in November, two losses that the Mavs led in the fourth quarter.

Bleacher Report

Rank: 12 (as of 01/14/22)

Last week: 11

The Dallas Mavericks’ six-game winning streak came to a screeching halt on Wednesday, when the New York Knicks blew them out, 108-85. That shouldn’t erase all the good vibes of the streak, though.

Despite some horrifying shooting numbers (37.5 percent from the field and 22.9 percent from three), Luka Doncic has averaged 10.4 assists and been a plus player (plus-5.0 per game, to be exact) since December 31 when the run started. Prior to that date, Luka’s average plus-minus was minus-4.0.

Perhaps even more important, coach Jason Kidd has instilled more of a defensive mentality in this team that has often leaned on its offense to win games. Since December 1, Dallas has the league’s fifth-best defense.

Sports Illustrated

Rank: 10

Last week: 10

Couldn’t hurt to look. Dallas has improved after an enigmatic start to the season, surprisingly thanks in large part to a defense that now sits fifth overall in efficiency. Still, it feels as if the Mavs are lagging behind the Suns, Warriors, Jazz, and Grizzlies in the West (their recent win over Memphis notwithstanding.) Even if you put Dallas in that group, one thing is for sure: The team hasn’t changed the roster much after two straight years of Luka Dončić one-man shows in the playoffs.