The path to becoming an NBA superstar is unpredictable and has taken on many forms. There isn’t a place of origin for such a role. Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo validates this narrative as the current owner of the league’s MVP trophy. The NBA’s unpredictable parity has made the throne hot and ripe for the taking just not by who you think.
The emergence of Luka Doncic is no surprise to most Maverick fans. His historic rookie season served as a bright spot for an otherwise somber year. After a two-decade run, the franchise’s cornerstone and the greatest player was at the end of his NBA journey. Yet, the signs of a changing team were obvious. Luka’s award-winning debut skyrocketed expectations and the addition of Kristaps Porzingis only made them more tangible.
Like most the Mavericks wanted to start the season on a winning path in an attempt to curb the inevitable losing streak due to come in a fierce western conference. Doncic swiftly adopted this notion by leading the team in points (26.7), assists (9.5) and rebounds (10.3) per game while guiding the team to a 4-2 start. The two loses were to clear playoff-contending (Lakers and Trail Blazers) squads the Mavs will undoubtedly face later in the year. Luka established himself as the team’s catalyst and a scouting report nightmare.
In The Mavericks Schedule Preview, it was clear the Mavs would be tested early. In the first five games, they faced three potential playoff teams (Blazers, Lakers, Nuggets). Although the end result was a 1-2 record each contest was nip and tuck.
In those loses Luka was unreal averaging 30 points, 12.5 rebounds and 12 assists proving he’s right at home when it counts most. Against the Lakers, he went toe to toe with a long-tenured self-proclaimed “King” of the NBA. Pushing the contest to overtime where the Mavericks would eventually lose by nine points.
WHAT A DUEL!!
39 PTS, 16 AST, 12 REB
4 STL, 1 BLK, 13-23 FG
31 PTS, 15 AST, 13 REB
1 BLK, 10-23 FG, 3 stitches pic.twitter.com/osuq3ydrGM
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 2, 2019
To say “The King” was impressed is an understatement. Lebron acknowledged what MFFL already knows. The kid is a BAAAAAAD man!
Lebron thinks highly of Luka and after his most recent triple double he let him know about it. ??#MFFL #DSN
?: @AdamLefkoe pic.twitter.com/iyMRIacDza
— Mavs Nation (@MavsNationDAL) November 2, 2019
To cap off this incredible week he torched the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second straight triple-double creating yet another historic mark. By now it sounds redundant but once again “he’s the youngest to ever”. This time he’s the youngest to produce back-to-back 25 plus point triple-doubles. In addition to back-to-back 15 assist games.
20-Year-Old @Luka7Doncic‘s last 2 games:
29 PTS, 15 AST, 14 REB, 5 3PT
31 PTS, 15 AST, 13 REB, 4 3PT
Youngest ever with back-to-back 25 PT triple-doubles.
Youngest ever with back-to-back 15 AST games.pic.twitter.com/DEpH2KTmWO
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) November 4, 2019
The spirit Luka Doncic plays with is pure, contagious and can be felt around the world. Cleveland (Ohio) is home to the largest population of Slovenian Nationals in the US. When the country’s crown jewel came to perform his countrymen and women did not disappoint. They came early to support their homegrown superstar. Eddie Sefko was able to capture some of the adulation shown during his pregame warm-up.
As Luka warms up on Heritage Night in Cleveland, a crowd of mostly Slovenian-descent fans applaud his every made shot. About 250 Slovenians bought tickets thru the Cavs specifically for Luka’s visit. And Cleveland has the largest Slovenian population outside of Slovenia. pic.twitter.com/nBz42EsBlp
— Eddie Sefko (@ESefko) November 3, 2019
Luka and Lebron James are supremely beloved by their communities and take their responsibility as role models seriously. Their fan support serves as an optimistic anchor of accountability. On the court, the early similarities between them are undeniable and continue to grow. To drive this point home look no further than their first 76 career games. Theirs separated by the slimmest of margins.
?Luka > Lebron?#MFFL #DSN pic.twitter.com/8eE4a6c29J
— Mavs Nation (@MavsNationDAL) November 1, 2019
The hype surrounding LBJ’s entry to the league was in direct contrast to Luka’s. However, the rare kinship between their games can’t be denied. As big guards, they are top-notch facilitators with an uncanny ability to control the flow of the game. Their stat-stuffing prowess proves the comparison valid but it’s also why the heir to the NBA’s throne resides in big D. The league just doesn’t know it yet!
If he’s able to maintain his production Luka and Oscar Robertson would be the only players in NBA history to finish their first two seasons with 10 or more points, 9 or more assists and rebounds. HISTORIC!
The consistent great play made disputing Lebron’s place among NBA royalty a difficult task. Each night he separated himself by outperforming expectations until the NBA community acquiesced and he was donned “The King”.
I’m positive Luka won’t be making any future nickname request but its time the NBA recognizes his greatness. The kid could legit be the face of the league and an MVP candidate. Dare I say THIS YEAR?
Photo: www.mavs.com Twitter: @Ballislife, @ESefko, @MavsNationDAL Stats: www.basketball-reference.com www.nba.com