Luka Doncic didn’t play for the Dallas Mavericks at all in the Las Vegas Summer League, mainly because his contract buyout with Real Madrid hadn’t been finalized at the time. Despite only being seen on the sideline in a Mavs’ polo, Doncic is still the odd-on favorite to to win the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award this upcoming season. This draft class is one of the deepest we’ve seen in a long time, so there will be a lot of competition for Doncic to overcome. Can he live up to the hype and bring home the award to Dallas? We asked our staff:
Luka Doncic is currently the favorite in Vegas to win Rookie of the Year this upcoming season. Do you think Doncic can realistically accomplish that feat? If yes, explain why. If no, explain why not and which other rookie you think will win the award instead.
Kirk (@KirkSeriousFace): I had no idea about those Vegas odds. Rookie of the Year, upon reflection, largely boils down to two things: opportunity and competition. Following Las Vegas Summer League, it’s clear that with the exception of Kevin Knox, the better quality of rookies lie in the Western conference. However, the clearer path to the award lies in the Eastern conference. Guys like Knox and Sexton will be able to make an immediate impact on wins and losses whereas in the Western conference, it’s going to be a knife fight every night. I think the addition of Luka Doncic and DeAndre Jordan makes the Mavericks better, but unless the Mavericks win totals jump by 12+ wins, it’s going to go to a gun on a winning team. The narrative is just too easy.
So, in short, I think Luka has a good chance to win the award, but based on the Western conference I think Kevin Knox is the winner.
Ian (@SmitheeMMB): Doncic should deservedly be in the conversation for the award, barring injury. He’s already an experienced pro with a track record of sustained production against quality competition. He’s also in a system and with a coach ideally suited to his skillset.
I’m not sure he’ll be actual winner, however, simply because I think more often than not the RotY is usually a player on a bad team who gets to take a lot of shots. Doncic probably won’t have an enormous workload off the bat; I suspect Carlisle will try to limit his minutes a little to keep him fresh, much the way Popovich has long-used Ginobili. He also may not get to put up huge point totals anyway, because Dallas plays a balanced, motion offense and there will be other mouths to feed aside from Doncic, like Harrison Barnes, Dennis Smith Jr, Dirk, etc.
If I had to take a guess, I’d bet on DeAndre Ayton, who I think Phoenix will feed often and who already has a lot of focus from the national media on him.
Jordan (@Jbrodess): I think there’s no doubt that Doncic deserves to be in the top two or three in ROY considerations. He’s accomplished, skilled, and matched perfectly with the Mavericks’ system. And with not playing in Summer League, he’ll enter the season heavily hyped. But that also means he’ll be highly scrutinized.
Even though he’ll take a primary or secondary role as a playmaker and creator for a collection of veterans from the start, I don’t expect him to be the center of the offense year one like most rookie of the year headliners seem to be. Especially in a loaded rookie class. If it ends up being a high usage player, I’m expecting DeAndre Ayton or Marvin Bagley to grab the honor. And for my dark horse picks I’ll go Kevin Knox and Wendell Carter Jr. -- two guys in the eastern conference who could do some damage if asked to contribute quickly.
All that said, if the Mavericks somehow actually contend for that eight seed (I think they’ll end up around eleventh), Doncic will most likely be a major reason why, and that would seal up the award in my book.
Doyle (@TheKobeBeef): It’s reasonable that Doncic will be in the discussion for Rookie of the Year. He’s coming off multiple championships and MVPs in Europe, after all. I’m just not sure that he’ll win the award and that has a lot to do with the number of variables that go into deciding what an MVP quality is in a player. Also, the season is months away. Saying that he will win it now, in July, without seeing him play even one second is a fools errand.
That said, Doncic has the tools to perform well at the NBA level. There’s no questioning his talent at this point. Plus, he’s only 19 so he’s sure to improve. It may happen during his rookie season. It may take a few years for him to fully blossom. Regardless, he deserves to play at this level. What will determine if he gets beyond the ROY conversation and into the actual running depends a lot on how the Mavericks do this season and how much Doncic is allowed to do on the court.
If the Mavericks make the playoffs (lol) and Carlisle trusts his star rookie to loosen the reins, allowing him to flourish, then there’s no question that Doncic could be a finalist for ROY. However, if the team only marginally improves with Carlisle bringing him along at a methodical pace, then the media, who dictate the conversation, will look past him. They always favor flash and panache over steady improvement.
There’s just too much to sift through at this early date to make a definitive statement on whether Doncic will win ROY. It’s cool that the Vegas odds like him. But there’s simply too much we don’t know. Besides, NBA awards are pointless unless you’re the player and have a bonus written into your contract.
Dalton (@dalton_trigg): I believe Doncic is more than capable of winning the R.O.Y. award, being that he will more than likely be a starter from day one. He also has really good complementary pieces in Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes and DeAndre Jordan that should set him up for immediate success. Doncic will surely still feel some pressure from all the hype surrounding him, but he can handle it. There was a ton of hype surrounding Doncic going into this past season for Real Madrid, and he went on to win a Championship and Euroleague MVP, so... he definitely has a real shot at R.O.Y.
Doncic will have a lot of competition (Ayton, Jackson Jr., Knox) for the award, but in the end, I think he ends up winning it, while the Mavs surprise everyone by sneaking into the playoffs. DeAndre Jordan will prove to be the perfect type of center for Smith Jr. and Doncic, and I believe the Mavs will shock people this season by winning 40-plus games.