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Mavericks Power Rankings Watch: Dallas Mavericks continue their rise

The team has dropped two, but have also displayed plenty of positives early in the year.

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NBA: Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

While the Dallas Mavericks faced a relatively soft schedule to start the season, they mostly took care of business. When you look at the whole of an NBA season in retrospect, that is what good teams do. But as the quality of competition ratchets up, we may learn quite a bit about this team.

The Mavericks were outmatched Wednesday night in Dallas by the length and defensive skill of the Toronto Raptors. They possess the length that may cause problems for the Mavericks all season. But even all that considered, this has been quite a start to the season for the Mavericks, who are displaying once again a lethal offense. And that’s what we’re diving into in this week’s power rankings watch.


ESPN

Rank: 5

Last week: 7

Grant Williams is thriving in his first opportunity to be a full-time starter after arriving in Dallas in a sign-and-trade deal. Luka Doncic has credited Williams’ defensive commitment and communication for being key to the Mavs’ outstanding start. Williams also is averaging a career-best 15.1 points per game and shooting 54.3% from 3-point range, capitalizing on open looks created by Doncic and Kyrie Irving. The Mavs are 6-1, but they’ve also played the sixth-easiest schedule so far. That changes this week, as the team faces staunch defenses in its next two matchups: the Raptors (No. 5) and Clippers (No. 8). — Tim MacMahon

NBA

Rank: 6

Last week: 11

The Mavs haven’t won a game that wasn’t within five points in the last five minutes and they didn’t have much of a chance against the champs on Friday. But they’re 5-1, having scored 58 points on 41 clutch possessions (141 per 100) over their five close games.

Three takeaways

Luka Doncic leads the league in clutch scoring (25 points on 8-for-11 shooting). But Grant Williams was a hero on Sunday, going 3-for-3 from 3-point range in the fourth quarter against Charlotte. Williams has taken 76% of his total shots from 3-point range (up from 60% over the last two years) and is an amazing 23-for-41 (56%) from beyond the arc.

Williams’ shot profile fits with the Mavs, who rank last in the percentage of their shots (41%) that have come in the paint. (They ranked 29th at 42% last season.) They’ve been outscored by 13.3 points in the paint per game, easily the league’s biggest discrepancy.

The Mavs’ second-ranked offense has been remarkably consistent, scoring between 115 and 124 points per 100 possessions in all six of their games.

Four of those six have come against teams that rank in the bottom 10 defensively, and the Mavs will now play three straight games against top-10 defenses, with their In-Season Tournament game against the Clippers on Friday being the obvious highlight.

The Athletic

Rank: 8 (Tier 2: Brink of Contention)

Last week: 10

Player we’re loving so far: Luka Dončić. Sometimes, you have to highlight the main guy. This is the best basketball we’ve seen out of Luka, and that’s saying something. The turnovers are still high, but that’s nitpicking. His shot making, especially from deep, changes everything. If he’s making 40 percent of his 3-pointers for most of the season, good luck to your defense.

Why here? They can’t defend, and the offense is so good that it doesn’t matter. The Mavs have taken advantage of an easy start to the schedule, but good teams are supposed to do that.

Sports Illustrated

Rank: 3

Last week: 5

An early candidate for Sixth Man? How about Tim Hardaway Jr., who is averaging 18.1 points off the bench? The Mavs’ Luka Dončić–led offense continues to chug along, but it’s a respectable defense (17th in efficiency) that’s perhaps most surprising.