David Richard-US PRESSWIRE
The NBA intelligentsia feel the Mavericks need to get their über-star back in the lineup soon if they want to make a run this season.
The German gunner's injury has made things tough on the Mavericks (7-7), and their placement in the structure of the league reflects that. SB Nation NBA contributor Seth Rosenthal has Dallas 19th in the league, a dip of four spots since last week's rankings. He writes:
The Mavs have actually been a solid enough offensive team with Dirk Nowitzki out, but their defense is (and will continue to be, I imagine) pretty bad, and it was made to look especially horrid against the Lakers. They don't win games these days unless they can crack 100 points. At least they're doing that with some frequency, including their explosive win at home against the Knicks on Wednesday. O.J. Mayo hasn't really lost steam yet and Vince Carter has been quietly, sickeningly picking up his productivity as well.
Matt Moore of CBS Sports dumps Dallas down six spots to 19th, writing, "JGDB. Just Get Dirk Back." Kirk Helin over at NBC's ProBasketballTalk is more optimistic, with Dallas ranked 14th in his order. ESPN's Marc Stein slots the Mavs 19th, a slide of five spots in his rankings. John Hollinger is the most pessimistic analyst here, though; he's got Dallas all the way down in the 25th spot.