The Mavericks are slowly making their way up the rankings in the NBA’s Western Conference.

The same can be said of their players in Sports Illustrated’s top-100 list.

Luka Dončić got plenty of respect from the venerable magazine, checking in at No. 6 on SI’s best-players list.

That’s up from No. 9 last season.

The only players ahead of Dončić are (from No. 5 to No. 1), Denver’s Nikola Jokic, Golden State’s Steph Curry, the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant.

Here’s what SI wrote about the Mavericks’ superstar point guard:

“It stands to reason the 22-year-old Dončić may one day inherit the top spot on this list, as he continues on an all-time great trajectory. He’s prolific in every facet as a full-time offensive engine with the size and pace to create mismatches.

“It’s not a bad bet that he may eventually average a triple-double – and he’s only been in the league for three seasons.”

The writers also said that “it seems foregone Dončić will eventually win an MVP.”

Dončić wasn’t the only Maverick to make the elite list.

Kristaps Porzingis checked in at No. 58, which was down from the 40th spot he occupied before last season.

“It’s almost too easy to overreact to Porzingis’s postseason retreat. Porzingis still averaged nearly 20 and 10 during the regular season and has enough size, length and touch to positively impact both sides of the ball.

“He’s still one of the NBA’s most singular talents. And at 26, there’s still plenty of time for him to make another leap.”

Tim Hardaway Jr., meanwhile, made his debut on the list at No. 96. He rose from unranked status thanks to his strong run both in the playoffs and the regular season in 2020-21.

He averaged 17 points and shot 40.4 percent from 3-point range in the playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, both slightly up from his regular-season averages.

Said SI of Hardaway: “He notched the second-highest 3-point percentage of his career. The Mavs will be looking for more from Hardaway after rewarding him with a four-year, $74 million contract this offseason.”

Twitter: @ESefko

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