Power Rankings: Mavericks are preseason No. 1

Updated: December 23, 2011, 3:35 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com
Friday, Dec. 23
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Happy anniversary to us!

The end of the five-month lockout not only saved the 2011-12 campaign but ensured that your trusty NBA Power Rankings committee (of one) will be in business this winter and spring for the 10th straight season.

By now you know the drill: This is where we assess the teams from 1 to 30 every week, relying on the highly subjective but longstanding philosophy that each team's slot is determined by weighing what's happening in the present in equal measure with its big-picture, season-long outlook.

A full 194 days since the Dallas Mavericks' title clinching triumph in Miami and 256 days since the last edition of the rankings, Dirk Nowitzki's Mavs are naturally granted the respect all champions get here, which means Dallas must start out in the No. 1 slot even after Tyson Chandler's free-agent defection to New York. How long Dallas can hold off the likes of Miami, Oklahoma City and Chicago without Chandler -- as well as the upstart Knicks and Los Angeles Clippers -- remains to be seen.

Be advised, furthermore, that the Clips and Knicks vaulted to their super lofty perches in this edition of the rankings largely in tribute to their respective acquisitions of Chris Paul and Chandler, which rank as the splashiest moves of the ultra-compressed offseason we just witnessed.

The next rankings batch will appear Jan. 2, with a fresh and fully non-automated pulse take of the league's 30 teams -- which is compiled with Steve Nash-ian assists from ESPN Stats & Info and the Elias Sports Bureau -- to follow every Monday during the regular season. Click here to comment on these rankings.

Editor's note: The "Last Week" category is from the final Power Rankings of 2010-11 in April, while "Record" is how the team finished last season.

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