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Sleeper Rankings: Can Mavs Make Another Surprise Run?

The Dallas Mavericks made the Western Conference finals last season. What are the chances history repeats itself?

Last season, the Dallas Mavericks took the league by storm after advancing to the Western Conference finals for the first time since 2011.  

Before the 2021-22 season, ESPN projected the Mavs to finish with a 48-34 record, and the 12th best odds to make the NBA Finals. 

Dallas exceeded expectations as it closed out the year with a 52-30 record and a fourth-place finish in the West. 

If the team hopes to make another Cinderella run, it will be up to Luka Doncic and friends. 

In a recent ranking of the top five NBA sleeper teams, Bleacher Report ranked Dallas second. 

If the Mavs hope to make another deep run, the team will have to find a way to replace Jalen Brunson's scoring. 

"Christian Wood was a good get, and his ability to serve as a pick-and-roll (or pick-and-pop) screener could make him a better fit with Dončić than Brunson was," Zach Buckley wrote. "The return of a healthy Tim Hardaway Jr. might be huge; he averaged 16.6 points and shot 39.1 percent from three in his last full season."

There is significant optimism from other players like Jaden Hardy and Tyler Dorsey to step up for Dallas as well.

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In Summer League play, Hardy averaged 15 points. In his first summer game with the team, Hardy dazzled with 28 points. 

Assuming he can stay consistent in his style of play, then Dallas could get the steal of the draft. 

As for Dorsey, his EuroBasket performance is something that could earn him a roster spot, something Dirk Nowitzki took notice of. During a two-game span, he scored 27 and 23 points. 

If he can pick up where he left off this summer, then he has a great possibility of making the team. 

Another factor for Dallas to make another sleeper run will be the level and play of Doncic. 

Just how much better can he get? 

"Dončić is the real key here, though. He's a basketball magician—the fourth player ever to tally 6,000 points, 2,000 assists, and 2,000 rebounds in his first four seasons—who might have new tricks up his sleeve," Buckley wrote. "Mark Cuban told B/R's Taylor Rooks that Dončić is working on an insane shot." 

With Doncic on the roster, one begins to wonder why Dallas was not No. 1 on the list. 

Whatever the case may be, Dallas has a shot at making another surprise run.