Somehow, Mavericks media day is this week. That means training camp starts in less than seven days. It feels like we all got drunk and passed out after the Mavericks stunning draft-day for Luka Donic a week ago.
Since training camp is right around the corner (again, how?), lots of Mavericks are working out in Dallas and playing pickup games. That includes Doncic, who is knocking the socks of everyone who’s watched him play.
Here’s what Dirk Nowitzki said in a radio interview on 105.3 The Fan last week. A reminder — while Dirk is a gentle soul, he isn’t one to normally puff out praise.
“Just the way he already reads pick-and-rolls. You go under, he shoots. If the man goes over, he kind of keeps him behind him like the best, like Chris Paul and these guys do. He does all of that. He’s going to be fun -- fun to watch.”
“Obviously, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him,” Nowitzki said in the radio interview. “Coming over from a different country, I went through the same thing about 20 years ago. It’s tough to adjust to a lot of things: living in a different country, another culture, to a different game, different coaching, different play style. For me, that took a full year. My first year was really, really tough.
”We’re going to do everything we can to help this kid develop and have fun and learn so we can see the best Luka here hopefully in a couple more years. But he’s an incredible talent.”
Reading those quotes gives me the sweats.
About a day later, Harrison Barnes chimed in on ESPN’s The Jump:
“We played pickup the other day...he got dimes,” Barnes said. “He’s got the flair, he can see the floor and he can run a team.”
I can only imagine Barnes then breathing a huge sigh knowing he doesn’t have to run more pick and rolls.
That’s not the end of the Doncic praise! Hold on to your weenie, because here’s what ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon had to say about Doncic’s inclusion in the ESPN Top 100 NBA rankings (No. 63 to be exact) that are trickling out this week:
The word out of Dallas is that Doncic has often been the best player on the court in pickup games at the Mavs’ facility despite not being in great shape by NBA standards. And before you make a crack about the Mavs’ talent or lack thereof, these games have included local products like LaMarcus Aldridge.
Jeez. I never thought I could be more hyped for a Mavericks player, but Doncic is pushing me to the limits. We haven’t even seen a preseason game yet! Hopefully Doncic translates these superlatives into production, but he’s produced at every level of professional basketball he’s ever been at, so there’s no reason to really doubt he won’t ball out in the NBA in a few short weeks.
For what it’s worth, DeAndre Jordan and Barnes both made the ESPN Top 100 list as well, although below Doncic. Check that same ESPN piece for thoughts on why Jordan should play above his ranking (which is 80). It makes sense, when you consider what Rick Carlisle’s offense does for rim-rolling fives. Jordan is probably the best rim-runner Carlisle has ever had (sorry Tyson!) so it stands to reason that Jordan is going to feast thanks to the spacing Carlisle’s offense provides, plus the passing Doncic is going to bring.