As a testament to the front office and the coaching staff, the Dallas Mavericks nicely transitioned from one star to another. Just as the much-beloved legend Dirk Nowitzki was about to hang up his boots, in came another sensational talent: Luka Doncic. The organization closely monitored for years prior to drafting him in 2018.
Doncic turned out quite well, as we can all see. He hasn’t hit his peak and he’s already one of the best players in the game. We can argue that he’s on the brink of becoming a bona fide superstar, even to casual fans.
Since his stardom is growing rapidly, though, there are now questions about his marketability amongst his counterparts. Player empowerment has been great for players, but it came with added challenges too. It has extended their responsibilities beyond the court, which includes enticing other talent to join the team.
Dallas is a big-market team that’s owned by a well-liked, high-profile owner, but can the clean-cut, European ‘Wonderboy’ close things out and entice other stars to come to Dallas?
Obviously, we’ll have to wait and see for a season or two to have a more concrete answer. For Mavs general manager Donnie Nelson, however, the answer is a definitely “yes.”
Nelson even believes due to a wider skillset, Doncic may be able to recruit better than Nowitzki. Here’s what he told BasketballHype:
“I think in terms of recruiting, it’s much better to have a ‘true quarterback’ that has the abilities that [Doncic] has … when I saw Luka play for the first time, I’m like, ‘Man, that’s a 6-foot-7 Steve Nash that can shoot it and this and that and the other thing, but he rebounds like Jason Kidd.’ To have [a player who’s a combination of] two of the greats that were right here in Dallas, it’s going to make our recruiting efforts a lot smoother.”
Hopefully, people don’t see it as a knock on Nowitzki. Things were different from the German’s heyday in the league. Back then, player-to-player recruitment wasn’t as open and aggressive as it is today, and even if it was, social media still wasn’t that influential to put a bigger spotlight behind it. Also, most players aren’t even aware of their power at that time, especially for someone as unassuming as Dirk.
Nevertheless, Nelson’s point on Doncic’s Swiss-Army knife ability on the floor is very true. The 22-year-old can light up the scoreboard, shoot anywhere, find opportunities off tough looks, rebound, and facilitate for his teammates. It’s pretty evident with his stat-stuffing numbers night in and night out.
Doncic is currently averaging 28.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.1 assists per game this season. He leads the Mavs in total points, rebounds, assists, steals, and threes made, while his nine triple-doubles are fourth-most in the league.
Of course, they’ll have to win more games too, but with all the talent, production, and everything in it, it’s easy to assume that Doncic will soon influence others to bring their talents to Dallas. Who knows? It might start this off-season.