The Dallas Mavericks returning home after splitting games on the first road trip of the season can only mean one thing: The first installment of ‘rising and falling’ is out before the home opener on Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets.

In this season-long series, we will track players on the Mavericks’ roster on a week-to-week basis, judging if their play has improved or worsened during each week of games.

How does it work? 

So, here are the ground rules: For a player to make the rising and falling list he has to play substantial and meaningful minutes in all of the games played that week. What is taken into account is players’ efficiency, impact, results, and what was said about them by head coach Jason Kidd or other players. Additionally, assume that all players omitted from this list stayed neutral.

Lastly, before we get into week one, remember that this is my list. If you disagree with it, feel free to let me know. We can discuss the matter, but my opinion probably won’t change.

Rising: 

1.) Luka Dončić.

Week one stats: 22.5 points, 10 rebounds, 9.5 assists, 0.5 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 5 turnovers.

The breakdown: Dončić makes the unusual – well – usual. That is why, after a pedestrian game one of the season, where he scored 18 points, it was not a cause for panic. He quickly bounced back with a 27-point and 12-assist performance against the Raptors on Saturday. And in the process, he completely took over the third quarter – dictating the pace of play. He is the primary reason Dallas always has a fighting chance, regardless of what the score may say at a given point in a game.

Moment of the week: 

2.) Tim Hardaway Jr. 

Week one stats: 19.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 52 percent from 3-point range, and 52 percent from the field.

The breakdown: Hardaway, through week one, did exactly what Dallas re-signed him to do – shoot. Against Toronto, he went 9-16 from the field and 7-11 from three. He is capable of getting hot in a hurry, and once one shot goes in, the basket might as well be as big as the ocean.

After getting red-hot against the Raptors, Hardaway uttered the words every good shooter loves to say, “shooters shoot.”

If Kidd’s offensive system is going to work, Hardaway needs to keep on doing just that. The only cause for concern is, with as hot as Hardaway can get from outside, he can also go equally as cold. However, one thing he isn’t going to do is stop shooting.

Moment of the week: 

3.) Kristaps Porzingis. 

Week one stats: 14.5 points per game, 7.5 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 33 percent from the field, and 23 percent from 3-point range.

The breakdown: Off of a simple eye test, Porzingis’ stat line isn’t the prettiest. However, what is difficult to quantify is the defensive effort he put forth against Toronto in the second game of the week. He undoubtedly looks more mobile than at any point last season – that matters. Dallas succeeding isn’t tied to just Dončić being Dončić, but also Porzingis being a “presence,” as he puts it. He proved capable of that in Toronto, ending the game with four blocks and 10 rebounds.

What does need to follow, for Porzingis, is offensive efficiency. Even the best rim protectors get played off the floor if they can’t make open shots. Kidd’s post-up heavy scheme may work in Porzingis’ favor in theory, but until he proves capable of converting on those looks, the scheme won’t work in reality.

Moment of the week: 

Falling: 

1.) Reggie Bullock. 

Week one stats: 2 points, 2 rebounds, 20 percent from 3-point range, 16 minutes a game.

The breakdown: Bullock was Dallas’ prized free-agent addition. Through the first week of the season, he is only playing in a quarter of game action a night. Kidd had no answer as to why he isn’t playing more, but it can be assumed that Dallas’ head coach is still experimenting with his rotations on a nightly basis. Still, seeing more Bullock – after the Mavericks handing him the bag – wouldn’t be a bad thing.

In theory, he is the perfect wing to pair with Porzingis and Dončić. And given Dallas’ spacing struggles, he appears to be a player who can provide a short-term solution. It all comes down to whether Kidd is willing to play him.

Moment of the week: 

2.) Sterling Brown. 

Week one stats: 1.5 points per game, 4.0 rebounds, 14 percent from 3-point range, and 9 minutes a game.

The breakdown: Brown is another free-agent signee that hasn’t gotten a wealth of love from Kidd. He’s playing sparsely throughout contests when he could, arguably, contribute more to the team. His fall isn’t linked to poor play, but more so a lack of opportunity. In Houston, where he was given free rein to shoot and play his game, he thrived. Expecting that production in Dallas would be foolish, but he should be playing a larger role on this team.

Moment of the week: Brown’s difficult debut hasn’t called for any, just yet.

A glance at this week’s games: 

The Mavericks enjoy a Texas homestand, playing Houston on Tuesday and San Antonio on Thursday. From there, Dallas travels to Denver to play the Nuggets on Friday night. All three games, on paper, are winnable.

Dallas should make quick work of the rebuilding Rockets and Spurs, but Friday’s contest against the Nuggets on the second night of a back-to-back might be a scheduling loss. As for wins and losses, expect Dallas to go 2-1 over this stretch.

Related Mavericks reading: 

“Resilience makes the difference in Dallas’ win over the Toronto Raptors.” 

“In Dallas’ regular-season opener, some things changed while others stayed the same.” 

Feature image via Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports.