Luka Doncic is undoubtedly the future of the Dallas Mavericks. The 19-year-old Slovenian guard has drawn rave reviews this week from Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle and future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki. While it’s great that the Mavericks have bought in to their young star, they need to dial down the hype if they want him to succeed.
Dallas swung a trade during the 2018 NBA Draft in order to select Doncic with the third pick. The Mavs wanted him so badly they surrendered the fifth overall pick and a protected 2019 first-rounder. That’s a hefty price to pay but many believed Doncic was the best player in this year’s draft. I certainly did.
Nowitzki had the following to say about Doncic this week:
“I could shoot a little bit (at 19), but I never had the court vision, the savviness and the stuff that he brings to the game. Just the way he already reads pick-and-rolls. You go under, he shoots. If the man goes over, he kind of keeps him behind him like the best, like Chris Paul and these guys do. He does all of that. He’s going to be fun — fun to watch.”
“Obviously, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him. Coming over from a different country, I went through the same thing about 20 years ago. It’s tough to adjust to a lot of things: living in a different country, another culture, to a different game, different coaching, different play style. For me, that took a full year. My first year was really, really tough.”
“He’s unbelievable in the pick-and-roll play. He did, like, over-the-head, between-the-leg passes to cutters. The savviness that he brings, the court vision is already unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I saw for a 19-, 20-year-old. Unbelievable. He’s a good shooter when he has time. I think he’s going to be great for us for a long, long time.”
That’s really nice praise from the greatest Maverick of all-time. He did temper it a bit, but it’s fair to say he’s gushing.
Carlisle went a bit further according to Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News:
“Off of what I’ve seen over the last two days, anybody who doesn’t jump on season tickets now is going to sorely regret it later, that’s all I’ll say.”
Wow. He went with the “get your season tickets now” approach. That’s maybe a bit much.
Doncic can definitely play. In 2018 he was named the MVP of the EuroLeague, EuroLeague Final Four and Liga ACB as he led Real Madrid to EuroLeague and and Liga ACB titles. He’s already really, really good, but he’s still just 19. He’s going to have growing pains in the league.
I think Doncic is going to wind up being very good but the Mavericks should absolutely stop over-hyping him. Doing that is just setting him up for failure. Let him show up on the scene and shock everyone, instead of having to live up to unfair expectations.
It will be better for the franchise in the end if the Mavs just ease him in, instead of using him to sell season tickets before he’s taken the court.