After having one of the most prolific seasons in the Europa League, expectations for Luka Doncic are sky-high. And with the 2018-19 regular season fast approaching, all eyes will be glued on the Slovenian player as he enters his rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks. They acquired him from a Draft Day trade after the Atlanta Hawks had selected the versatile player as the third pick.
In the first preseason game victory against the Beijing Ducks, Doncic showed flashes of his unique skill that has garnered him so much hype. In his debut performance, he scored 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field to add to his six rebounds, three blocks and two assists.
He had a string of good plays off the dribble and displayed his advanced ability to read pick-and-rolls, change screens and create space to shoot daggers over the defense. His most memorable play was when he banked a one-legged shot after going behind his back on a drive.
“It’s been a long time since I played a game, so I’m really happy to be here,” Doncic said during the postgame interview. “With the first game, you’re a little bit nervous—new team and everything. I think everything went well.”
In the following contest against the Philadelphia Sixers, he notched 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting from field-goal range while recording six rebounds, three steals, three assists and two blocks in the 114-120 loss. In their second bout against the Sixers, Doncic recorded 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 3-of-5 from the perimeter to help seal a 115-112 win.
In the first two games, the rookie didn’t get to show the strong passing skills that became his trademark at Real Madrid. But it’s not a sign of concern yet as he appears to be fitting into the Maverick’s established half-court offense, which ranked 12th in points per possession last campaign, per Synergy.
Doncic’s ability to get to the rim will really help the Mavericks elevate their post presence from last season; Dallas ranked in the bottom half in field goals made (38.1) and field-goal attempts (85.9) while averaging the lowest shot attempts in the restricted area in the entire league. The Mavericks’ defense also needs a revamp. Last campaign, Dallas ranked in the bottom half in defensive rating (108.2) and allowed opponents to score 105.4. With Doncic and DeAndre Jordan leading the frontcourt, the team will get a much-needed boost in both departments.
One of the things he does need to pay attention to is limiting his turnovers. In the last three preseason games, he has turned the ball over 12 times. A lot of these turnovers are a result of bad passes and not taking care of the ball.
There are still 82 whole games to correct that and establish a solid team chemistry with all the moving parts. And while it will take a lot for this team to even sniff the playoffs, the Mavericks and Doncic are certainly a must-watch.
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