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Luka Doncic at Mavs: Can He Replace Dirk as a Franchise Player?
Luka Doncic is undoubtfully coming to the NBA as the most talented European player since Ricky Rubio. Some would argue that Kristaps Porzingis joined the NBA with a lot of hope and prospect, but remember how Knicks' fans reacted after Porzingis became the number 4 pick. Of course, after Bargnani and Milicic flops, the NBA fans are rather suspicious about big white dudes coming from Europe. However, every player has a different story so let's focus on Luka Doncic today. Will he be someone we will want to remember or to forget? Img source (Doncic led Slovenia to EuroBasket 2017 trophy) One of the Most Mature Teens to Ever Enter the NBA I would love to place my bets that Luka will find a way to replace Dirk Nowitzki and become a new franchise player of the Dallas Mavericks. All the factors are in his favor. First of all, many basketball fans from the US are yet to see Luka Doncic play. You'll be amazed. I remember how all European fans lost their minds when Luka Doncic started making clutch plays for Real Madrid, arguably the best basketball team outside of the NBA, while being 17. I could not forget how Doncic drained one three-pointer after another to destroy Kaunas Zalgiris in EuroLeague. It was already clear back then that the kid had some talent. However, it was the EuroBasket that lifted Luka Doncic to the whole another level. Goran Dragic, Luka Doncic and bunch of average Slovenian players were never favorites to win the EuroBasket. Of course, Goran Dragic pulled the performance of the lifetime, and he was the leader of Slovenian team, but in my eyes, it was Doncic who won the most that year. Although Doncic choked during the first game of the tournament, he managed to find the rhythm and play like a mature player when the Slovenian team needed him the most. Some of his plays in the final against the dominant Serbian squad will remain among the all-time plays in EuroBaskets. It takes a lot of talent to be a leader of a losing team, especially in the NBA, but let's be honest, we only remember the guys who manage to go all the way and win titles (or at least have a shot at it). And Luka Doncic is one of those guys who know how to win trophies and lead the team. On top of EuroBasket 2017 victory, Luka Doncic also added EuroLeague's and Liga ACB's titles with Real Madrid. If that is not enough, Doncic also became MVP of EuroLeague season, EuroLeague final four, and ACB's season. Basically, he won everything there is to win in Europe by the age of 19. I understand that many fans of the NBA still believe that the level of European basketball is not high at all, but believe me; the competition is fierce - look at Spanish, Lithuanian or Serbian national basketball teams and how much harder it becomes for the team USA to win every year if you still need any proves. Even though I am not yet sure about Luka Doncic chances to become one of the greats, I am pretty convinced that 3 to 1 odds for him to grab Rookie of the Year award is a steal. He will have all the freedom, playing time, Dirk Nowitzki (I am sure that Dirk will have some nice tips), and most of all, maturity. Of course, other guys like Ayton or Bagley have experience too, but none of them competed on such high level throughout the last 2 years. And none of them have this many titles already. Img Source (Donci posses unbelievable maturity for his age) Luka Doncic's Strengths Luka Doncic is an oversized PG, and that should give him a lot of mismatches throughout his career. We already see how Ben Simmons uses his height and even though Luka Doncic is a whole different player, I expect to see Doncic scoring plenty of points from mismatches. However, he will probably never be that scoring beast with 30+ ppg, and that is more than ok because Doncic's priority on the court is to control the game and make his teammates better. There is close to no doubt that any big guy in the NBA would be willing to play with Doncic on the same team. I am sure that desire will increase after we see the compilation of Luka Doncic alley-op passes to DeAndre Jordan. There are no expectations from Mavs for the upcoming season, but Luka's and DeAndre's duet is enough for me to be excited to see Mavs in play. Luka Doncic has a wonderful basketball IQ already at the age 19. Even though he still makes stupid and reckless decisions sometimes, Doncic stepped up on the clutch moments of the most important games in Europe on numerous occasions. Let's put it this way - the 76ers would be happy if their youngsters would be as mature and intelligent on the court as Luka is. Luka Doncic's ball-handling skills are also out of this world. In today's NBA where speed and agility matter the most, Luka Doncic is a perfect fit as he can transition to a fast break in no time. It all might sometimes look clumsy or uncontrolled but if after a closer look, it is clear that Doncic is well aware of his movement and it is not an easy task for anyone to steal the ball from him. Also, Doncic has perfect vision on the court and reads the game extremely well, so his opponents can never rule out the possibility of some crazy-ass no-look pass, which makes it even harder to defend the youngster. Even though Doncic is not yet the best shooter, he has all the time in the world to improve. His shooting percentage is decent already but not yet enough if he wants to be a superstar. However, he already has his signature move. Ironically, that move is a little similar to Dirk Nowitzki's famous one-legged fadeaway jumper. I guess Dirk will be eager to share his knowledge and tips with Doncic to perfect his shooting all around. Just look at this beauty in the clutch moments of ACB finals: Luka Doncic weaknesses Luka Doncic is still pretty young, and as much as his mind is mature, his body is yet to develop. Doncic will have a hard time defending against quicker and physically strong opponents. I've already mentioned that Doncic is perfect for organizing fast breaks but ironically, he will be one of the slowest guards on the pitch most of the time. He can run fast, but his footwork is not yet enough to compete against the top class guards in the league. That will be a huge problem both offensively and defensively. Doncic will never be a beast like LeBron or Westbrook, but other white dudes from Europe like Nowitzki or Gasol already proved that you could win by outsmarting your opponents and exposing their weaknesses instead of pushing your way through by force. That said, Luka Doncic could use some more power. Other than that, Luka Doncic should improve his shooting, but it is already not tragic. I doubt that Doncic will follow the footsteps of Ricky Rubio, who failed to become an all-star just because of his disastrous shooting abilities. It is more a case of inconsistency rather than lack of skills. If Doncic can keep bringing his A game day after day, there is no doubt he will make Mavs fans excited. Will Luka Doncic become a new franchise player of Mavericks? I am pretty positive about it, but there are always some concerns. After all, there was a time when people expected Drago Milicic to become a superstar, remember? That said, I bet on Doncic to become an all-star sooner rather than later, and his winner's mentality is my main argument. The guy did not choke on numerous occasions already, and I believe he has enough determination to win some titles in the NBA as well. To be honest, if Luka Doncic fails to become NBA Hall of Famer one day, I'll be pretty disappointed. What do you guys think? Should Mavericks expect new Nowitzki to emerge or Luka Doncic will disappear among the best players in the world? Watch this before you make up your mind:
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