"When does Dirk Nowitzki get back?" This question has been posed by every NBA writer/fanboy since Day 1 of the 2012 NBA season. Many of the NBA's power rankers have answered the question differently, with some dismissing Dallas with low rankings or remaining optimistic by keeping them in the playoff hunt.
We can't really be sure of anything until Dirk's back, I suppose.
On the low end are both ESPN rankers, Marc Stein and John Hollinger. Stein's ranks feature Dallas slipping three spots to number 22 after the 76ers and the Rose-less Bulls. He also points out that the Mavs are 8-9 after a relatively easy schedule, which won't be the case in the near future. Hollinger's statistical-driven rankings highlight the Mavericks' woes even further, dropping them to a season-low No. 25.
The lone optimist in the weekly polls is NBC's Pro Basketball Talk, who finally dropped the Mavs out of playoff contention to No. 17. But this rank remains the highest, despite pointing out that Dallas has been an awful road team and plays six of its next seven games away from American Airlines Center.