Beyond the Arc

by Ben Fiore

 

Luka freaking Doncic.  If that name doesn’t excite you, you hate basketball.  This 6’7 Slovenian phenomenon is the future of the NBA, go ahead and jot that down because that’s a promise.  I have been watching basketball attentively for about 15 years now, and watch classic games and highlights from the past very often.  But let me tell you, through all of that time, I have only seen a small handful of players as fun to watch as this kid.  Remember, he is only in his rookie year AND only 19 years old.  I don’t usually bite at the “overseas draft pick bait”, but this dude is something special.

Luka Doncic is a Slovenia native, who gained his high profile of recognition over in Spain where he played for 3 years (starting at 16 YEARS OLD).  Luka is the youngest athlete to EVER play against an NBA team which were the Celtics in an exhibition tournament a few years back.  Playing for the Real Madrid basketball team, he created a lot of NBA hype for himself by skillful play and often being compared to a “more athletic Dirk Nowitski”.  The kid beamed talent and was an undeniable favorite in the NBA draft of 2018.  Now usually I don’t think much of high profile foreign players simply because they might be good in other countries, but the United States has the best of the best when it comes to basketball and most of them just aren’t prepared for that level of competition.  We’ve seen this as true through careers like Ricky Rubio, Goran Dragic, Darko Millicic who’s careers have been mediocre at best.  But I think Doncic will be an exception just like players such as Dirk, and Jokic who have done very well with the transition.

The comparisons to young Dirk are ironic because Luka ended up with the Mavs this year, despite that almost not happening.  Doncic was chosen #3 overall in this years draft by the Atlanta Hawks.  The Mavericks had their eyes set on Luka so much so that they traded their rights to Trae Young and a protected 2019 1st round pick for him.  As lights out of a shooter as Trae Young is, Dallas definitely made the smarter move.  Doncic has been paired with up and coming star Dennis Smith Jr, along with key veterans like Wesley Matthews, DeAndre Jordan, and of course Dirk Nowitski.  Running alongside a talent like Smith is excellent to have sort of a tag team effect with, but being mentored by those key veterans will really help Luka focus on his unlimited potential.  Dirk is arguably the greatest foreign NBA player all time and has a lot to pass on to the young superstar.  Though the Mavs are not currently elite at (20-23), they are rebuilding and show great promise to be in the near future.  Dirk is almost out the door, and will be basically handing the franchise over to Luka.  I know it’s only been half a season but I’m telling you (Deke), he’s ready.

Please do me a favor, if you haven’t seen this kid play yet, either watch the Mavericks’ next game or look up his highlights.  Step backs, slam dunks, circus lay ins, contested 3’s, buzzer beaters, cross ups, this kid does it all.  He’s averaging 20.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 5 APG which ain’t too shabby for a 19 year old newbie.  I firmly believe he will bring the Mavs to the playoffs and at least one conference finals in the next 4 years.  That’s the truth but YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH.  He’s the coolest foreign exchange student ever.  He’s energetic, very skilled, passionate, a leader, has a cool tat, a cool haircut, a hot mom, and can flat out BALL.  He shows the same teenage dominance that guys like KG, Kobe and LeBron did out of high school with a lethal mentality.  He’s a shoe-in all star and a future MVP, belieeee dat.  I have archaic expectations for this kid.  If he is able to keep up his level of play, I promise you he will go down as the greatest white player in NBA history.  That’s right.  More than Bird, West, Stockton, and yes even more than Brian Scalibrine.  All jokes aside, I’m all in on this dude.  Not even a Mavs fan, but his jerseys should be nation wide.

The true Luka effect is his influence of confidence of young players.  His tenacity and success at such a young age will show young players they can achieve anything without taking their time like most others would advise them to do.  He is leading the way for 1 and dones in the NCAA and immediate transfer for international talents. Luka had a lot of hype around him, but most of the NBA is just taken a back by how god damn talented this dude is.  LeBron was asked which NBA players would he like to play with and Doncic was the only rookie mentioned.  That is VERY high praise.  He is the white “Like Mike” story, and a future hall of famer.  And if I’m jumping the gun, then lay out some more guns for me to jump because this dude will go down as an all time great.  So to all of the NBA, I hope you’re ready for Luka Doncic, because he’s obviously ready for you.

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Written by benfiore

NBA writer of Beyond the Arc. Employee, podcast host and writer for Thoughts From the Bench.

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