Any week, where the Dallas Mavericks play two Western Conference finalists teams is a difficult one.

In week five, Dallas had to do so without its best player, Luka Doncic. And as a result, Dallas faced its first winless week of the season. The three losses came by way of two to the Phoenix Suns and one to the LA Clippers.

With no Doncic, everyone else in the rotation stepped up — somewhat. And with Doncic re-injuring himself in practice on Monday, it appears Dallas has to get comfortable with life without its star for some time.

As Dallas enters its dystopian fantasy — extended games without the star that makes everything run — the offense continues to be guided by Kristaps Porzingis and Jalen Brunson. With the stage set, let’s just into this week’s rising and falling.

Here are the ground rules: the rankings are based on the previous week of play, overall impact, efficiency, and quotable moments. If a player is left off the list, assume their position isn’t rising or falling.

Rising:

1.) Jalen Brunson

Week five averages: 18.7 points | 9 assists | 45% FG | 33% 3pFG.

The breakdown: In the three games since Doncic’s absence, what hasn’t Brunson done? He’s an offensive bright spot. More times than not, when he’s in the game, things go right for Dallas. He will never wow you with quick-twitch speed, but he makes the right decisions on the floor. That’s a skill. He has an adept ability to stop and start, using his body to create angles and pockets to get his shot off over anyone.

Moment of the week: 

2.) Kristaps Porzingis

Week five averages: 23 points | 3.7 assists | 9.3 rebounds | 1.7 blocks | 50% FG | 30% 3pFG.

The breakdown: Porzingis looks like Porzingis again. His production carried Dallas for stretches against Phoenix, and in the fourth quarter against the Clippers. The unicorn may never come back, but this Porzingis is just as good. There is a patience in his game that wasn’t there, even at his best in the NBA bubble. Doncic going down may function as a blessing in disguise for Porzingis. Extended minutes as the offensive focal point has improved his confidence, and he’s letting everyone know what he’s capable of.

Moment of the week: 

Falling: 

1.) Reggie Bullock

Week five averages: 2.7 points | 4.3 rebounds | 18% FG | 0% 3pFG on 2.7 attempts per game. 

The breakdown: Bullock’s offensive production was left in New York. His early struggles are cause for concern. Initially, he was brought to Dallas to be a D-and-3 wing. Currently, he is neither.16 games into the season, it’s troubling that he hasn’t found a sustainable offensive rhythm. The hope is that during the heart of Dallas’ schedule, he finds his footing. As of late, there is no proof that it will happen.

Moment of the week: 

2.) Tim Hardaway Jr. 

Week five averages: 16 points | 3.3 assists | 4 rebounds | 32% FG | 27% 3pFG.

The breakdown: Hardaway’s shooting percentage dipped this week. You could attribute that to the lack of Doncic. But also, Hardaway is a streaky shooter. Some weeks he can’t miss. Other weeks, he can’t buy a basket. The past week of action was the latter. However, expect him to break out of the shooting slump soon. He always does.

Moment of the week: 

3.) Dwight Powell: 

Week five averages: 4.6 points | 7 rebounds | 60% FG | -7.3-pus-minus. 

The breakdown: This topic was discussed in-depth last week, so not too much time will be spent here. Powell is not the answer for Dallas at the five. Watch this team play for five minutes, and you will arrive at the same conclusion. That’s not to say Powell is a bad NBA player. He’s serviceable — not a starter.

Moment of the week: 

This week at a glance: 

Dallas faces a light week, with only two games. However, those games will, again, test this team’s ability to compete at a high level nightly. On Tuesday, Dallas gets a rematch with the Clippers. It was one offensive foul call away from winning the game against the Clippers on Sunday. If Dallas brings intensity and effort, it should be able to compete and end the losing skid Tuesday night.

From there, Dallas plays the Washington Wizards on Saturday. That game feels like a toss-up. Washington is good, but Dallas has a puncher’s chance if Porzingis and Brunson are playing well. Expect Dallas to split wins and losses this week: 1-1.

Related Dallas Mavericks reading:

“Rise and Fall: Mavericks roster trends after week four.”

“Mavs Journal: life without Doncic has offered Dallas one key lesson.” 

Feature image via Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports.