The saying goes, it’s better to be lucky than good. Recently, the Dallas Mavericks appear to be the NBA embodiment of everything that age-old adage means.

With wins over the Boston Celtics and San Antonio Spurs, Dallas finished the week going 2-1. The only loss came by way of a streaking Miami Heat, who couldn’t miss in its lone game at American Airlines Center all season.

This week also featured Luka Doncic’s first game-winner of the year. That performance, undoubtedly, earned him a spot on this list. And if he continues this level of play, he may finish the year as a top-three MVP vote-getter. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s jump into this week’s rise and fall list.

As a reminder, 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.


1.) Luka Doncic.

Week three averages: 29.7 points | 8 rebounds | 5.7 assists | 46-percent FG | 36-percent 3p. 

The breakdown: Doncic, simply put, is one of the best basketball players in the NBA. Throughout week three he – again – showcased how valuable he is to what Dallas aims to accomplish this season. And he capped off an amazing week with a game-winner against Boston. It was a shot that sent the American Airlines Center into a frenzy. Three weeks, and nine games into the season, Doncic is already providing moments that NBA fans will remember for years. If that isn’t deserving of the number one spot on the rising list –  nothing is.

Moment of the week: 

In the words of Kristaps Porzingis, “the guy is so clutch. It’s insane.”

2.) Jalen Brunson.  

Week three averages: 23 points | 7.3 rebounds | 3.6 assists | 59-percent FG

The breakdown: Opening up the week on a back-to-back is a challenge for any player. However, Brunson answered the call with arguably two of his finest performances all season. Against Miami, he scored 25 points. And against San Antonio, he scored 31. During that stretch, he gave Dallas a look at what the offense could look like if the ball wasn’t in Doncic’s hands all the time. It isn’t clear if Dallas aims to make him the long-term solution as a secondary ball-handler within the offense, but if performances like this week become a norm, he may force Dallas’ hand.

Moment of the week: 

3.) Kristaps Porzingis.

Week three averages: 21 points | 7 rebounds | 2 steals | 1 block | 53-percent FG

The breakdown: Even though he only played in one game this week, Porzingis belongs on this list for how he played in his return from injury. It wasn’t seamless, foolproof, or perfect, but it was enough. As maligned as he is, Porzingis is still immensely valuable to this version of the Mavericks. Yes, availability is a concern. Yes, offensively you can expect more out of him. But to act like Dallas isn’t a better team with him – as opposed to without him- is a fool’s errand. It’s only a matter of time until he figures it out. Better days are ahead for the seven-footer.

Moment of the week: 

“He was great,” Jason Kidd said after the win against Boston. “He was great. Came up with a big block down there at the end of the game and then also had a big tip-in for us — I think we might have been down two to tie the game up. But I thought, for his first time back after being out five games, he was really good.”


1.) Frank Ntilikina. 

Week three averages: 3.7 points | 2.3 rebounds | 0.7 assists | 32-percent FG 

The breakdown: What was a great week two, turned into a rather poor week three for Ntilikina. So things go in the NBA. He struggled to score the ball throughout the week. And after playing an instrumental part in some of week two’s comeback efforts, he could not maintain that production into week three. The good news is he isn’t someone Kidd constantly has to inspire. He’s ready to work. And heading into week four, things can change for the young french point guard.

Moment of the week: 

This week at a glance.

Dallas enters this week of action 6-3. The Mavericks open things up against the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night. At 1-9, the Pelicans haven’t played well all season. If Dallas doesn’t play down to the level of competition, it should win with no trouble. From there, Dallas heads to Chicago to play the Bulls on Wednesday. And on Friday, Dallas wraps up its week of action with the third game against San Antonio this season. Expect the Mavericks to go 2-1 through this week’s games.

Related Mavericks reading: 

“Mavs Journal: Luka Magic and how Dallas takes steps forward.” 

“Three observations from the win over Boston.” 

Feature image via Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports.