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NBA Power Rankings Watch: injured Mavericks leave everyone undecided

When the Mavericks have been healthy they have the look of a legitimate team. The only problem is they’re never healthy.

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NBA: New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Mavericks continue to show moment of brilliance. The shooting display between Kyrie Irving and Tim Hardaway Jr. the other night being one of them. And different than season’s past, the Mavericks have found their way to a couple wins with Luka Doncic out. The data is small, but when Kyrie, Doncic, Dereck Lively and Dante Exum have played in various lineups they have been solid.

But alas, the Mavericks cannot stay healthy. As soon as one key reserve or starter returns to play another is dinged up with an injury that holds them out for games on end. It is what has left national media confused about whether the Mavericks can be a threat to the contenders in the West or not. And it is what will be difficult for the front office in Dallas heading into the trade deadline. There are clear holes on the team, but it’s also impossible to know what this team really is while battling the injury bug. That’s the focus in this week’s Power Rankings Watch.


ESPN

Rank: 6

Last week: 8

Sixth Man of the Year candidate Tim Hardaway Jr. has been sizzling during his stint as a fill-in starter, helping the Mavs go 2-1 while Luka Doncic nurses a sprained right ankle. Hardaway averaged 32.3 points on .483/.500/.913 shooting splits in the three games. Hardaway and Kyrie Irving (34.3 points per game during the Mavs’ 5-2 homestand) became the second Dallas duo ever to score at least 40 points each in a game during Monday’s win over the Pelicans — a feat Doncic and Irving accomplished in March of last season. — MacMahon

Bleacher Report

Rank: 14

Last week: 12

Dallas Mavericks fans may be frustrated with a lack of consistency from their team, but it’s hard to hold it against them, given the number of injuries they’ve faced this season.

Dante Exum has arguably been their second-best player, but he didn’t really solidify his spot in the rotation till Kyrie Irving was hurt. By the time Irving and Luka Dončić were both available, Exum was out with his own injury. Dereck Lively II has missed plenty of time lately too.

For the entire season, Dallas has just 47 minutes in which all three of those guards are on the floor, and that number drops to 31 when you add Lively to the mix.

Assuming all four can get and stay healthy for a bit, the Mavs could have a run in them.

NBA

Rank: 11

Last week: 11

The Mavs lost their first three games without Luka Doncic this season, but then won two straight, with the second of those Doncic-less wins being the Knicks’ first loss with OG Anunoby. But they blew a huge opportunity (regarding the standings) against a very shorthanded Pelicans team on Saturday, falling to 2-4 without their MVP candidate.

Three takeaways

The Mavs rank just 26th in offensive rebounding percentage (26.6%), but that’s an improvement from last season when they ranked last (22.6%). And they clinched the New York win with a Josh Green 3-pointer after they grabbed three offensive rebounds on the same possession. Tim Hardaway Jr. ranks 298th in offensive rebounding percentage among 317 players who’ve averaged at least 10 minutes per game and had 10 total offensive boards in 1,009 total minutes before Thursday, but had two of the three on that possession.

Though New Orleans was without Zion Williamson and three other guys in their top six, it outscored Dallas by 10 points in the paint and by another nine at the free-throw line. The Mavs rank last in the percentage of their shots (42%) that have come in the paint, with this being the eighth time in the last nine seasons that they’ve ranked in the bottom three. Only the Blazers (minus-12.6) and Warriors (minus-7.2) have been outscored by more points in the paint per game than the Mavs (minus-6.9).

The good news from the weekend is that Maxi Kleber returned from a 31-game absence. The Dallas defense has consistently been better with Kleber on the floor and the Pelicans scored just 19 points on 23 possessions in his 11 minutes on Saturday.

The Mavs are just 5-11 in games played between the nine West teams that currently have winning records. They’ll get another shot at the fifth-place Pelicans (whom they trail by a game) on Monday, with Doncic listed as doubtful and Dereck Lively II (who’s missed the last five games) listed as questionable.

The Athletic

Rank: 12 (Tier 3: Playoff Teams)

Last week: 10

Preseason over/under: 45.5

Projected record: 48-34

We haven’t seen this team fall apart when Luka Doncic is out, and that’s because Kyrie Irving looks like he’s back to being himself. He’s been able to keep the level of play high on the offensive end of the court, and we’re seeing great efforts from the supporting cast. That has made me feel great about the Mavs keeping this going and hitting the over. If they can get healthy and stay healthy, we may see them get to 50 wins in the West.