Spruce Derden-US PRESSWIRE
Even without superstar forward Nowitzki in the lineup, the play of O.J. Mayo and others have the Dallas Mavericks in position to make some noise.
The shooting guard's stellar play of late (24 points per game, 58.1 percent 3-point shooting in five December games) has helped buoy the Mavericks even with superstar Dirk Nowitzki's protracted absence due to injury. Mayo is shooting better than 53 percent from 3-point range this season, and leads the team in points and free throws to boot.
SB Nation NBA contributor Seth Rosenthal escalates the Mavs five spots to 15th in his latest power rankings:
Amid bad news that Dirk Nowitzki likely won't be back this month, Dallas quietly trundled back up to .500 overall. It was as if O.J. Mayo read the news and said "welp, time to start playing like a superstar again."
Elsewhere on the web, Matt Moore of CBS Sports/Eye on Basketball jumps the Mavericks a whopping eight spots to 14th on his board. Kurt Helin of NBC Sports/ProBasketballTalk puts Dallas at 15th this week, a step up from 17th last time around. ESPN's Marc Stein is less convinced, although he bumped the Mavs up two spots to 20th this week. His colleague John Hollinger is also down on Dallas, as the Mavericks hold steady at 19th in his computation.