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Is Luka Dončić Ready to Take the Dallas Mavericks Baton from Dirk Nowitzki?

   Is Luka Dončić Ready to Take the Dallas Mavericks Baton from Dirk Nowitzki?

April 11, 2019

luka doncic

The positive impact of European basketball on the NBA began in earnest about 20 years ago. With the very recent announcement of Germany’s Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement from the NBA after 21 years as one of the league’s greats, Europe’s greatest contribution to the game of basketball will be heading off into the sunset. As sad as the announcement is for Dallas Mavericks fans who had the privilege of calling Nowitzki theirs for his entire career, there’s a new Euro player in town to take the baton.  Meet Luka Dončić.

Hailing from the small community of Ljubljana, Slovenia, the 20-year old Dončić was never meant to do anything but play basketball. Joining Real Madrid of the Euro League in 2015 at the ripe old age of 16, the 6’7” swingman was more than happy to bide his time on the bench while learning the ropes of professional basketball from established players. Neither basketball fans nor sports bettors at bet365 could have predicted what was going to take place during the 2017-2018 season.

To say Dončić exploded on the European basketball scene in 2017 would be a gross understatement. Once Real Madrid made the decision to put the then 18-year old in the starting lineup, he simply took the league by storm. By the end of the season, he was a Euro League Champion with the Euro League MVP and playoff MVP trophies sitting in his trophy case. On the season, he averaged 16 points and almost 5 rebounds per game.

His precociousness certainly caught the eye of NBA scouts. It’s seems a bit ironic that Europe’s best new basketball player was drafted with the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 draft by the Atlanta Hawks, a team that promptly traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for the rights to another rooking in Trae Young. With the trade confirmed, Dončić immediately became the heir-apparent to Nowitzki, arguably the greatest basketball player to ever come out of Europe.

Unlike his fist year at Real Madrid, Dončić was immediately thrust into Dallas’ starting lineup, in part because of an injury to Nowitzki that occurred prior to the beginning of the regular season. While the young freshman looked like a boy among men in his earlier games, it didn’t take long for him to serve notice to NBA fans there was a new Euro star in town.

Heading into the last game of the season, Dončić is almost a lock for Rookie of the Year honors. He currently leads the Mavericks in scoring (21.2 PPG) and assists (6.0 APG) while sitting as the second leading rebounder with 7.7 RPG. During the season and prior to his 20th birthday in February, he became the youngest player in NBA history to record a single game triple-double (double digits for points/rebounds/assists).

To say he might be the greatest Euro player to ever grace the NBA seems ridiculous. To not believe he has the talent level and skill set to accomplish greatness would be a huge mistake.

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