Luka Doncic coming to the Mavericks always seemed like a dream fit for so many reasons — a skillful player in Rick Carlisle’s flowing offense? Another wing to pair with Harrison Barnes to take the pressure off him? A dynamic and athletic point guard so Doncic doesn’t feel overwhelmed as a sole creator of offense? Yes please!
An obvious one, however, was that it would be super neat to see the greatest European NBA prospect of all time play with the greatest European player of all time. The Mavericks provided something not a lot of normal lottery teams can: the ability for a rookie to learn from a room of great veterans.
Usually top rookies are thrown into the fray of an organization rebuilding from scratch. The Mavericks are rebuilding, but they at least have a steady base for Doncic to land on. Well, as steady as a base can be for a franchise experiencing its worst run of basketball in two decades.
“He’s been great for me,” Doncic said of Dirk at Mavericks media day last week. “It’s just a pleasure to share a locker room with him this year. We all know who he is and what he’s done for basketball. He’s been great.”
For Dirk, this is still some uncharted territory. He admitted the seasons since the title haven’t been great and mentoring young guys isn’t something he’s really had to do until the last handful of seasons. “We had a few rough seasons, stunk in the playoffs a few times,” he said, which hurts my soul a little. Still, Dirk’s experience as a hyped Euro learning the ropes in the NBA is invaluable knowledge to a guy like Doncic, even if he doesn’t really need it. Doncic has been playing pro basketball since he was 16.
“You know not much, he’s been kind of doing his own thing,” Dirk admitted when asked of his advice given to Doncic. “I’m sure we’ll go out to dinner together sometime here or on the road just to talk about what he can expect but at the end of the day you have to make your own experiences, you got to go through some stuff to learn. You got to play through some mistakes. But I feel like his transition should be a lot smoother than mine. His English is better, he plays with a savviness that I never had, I might still not have it.
“Honestly, the way he carries himself in scrimmages and brings the ball up and reads situations, he’s fantastic. His court vision is something I haven’t seen in a young guy like that in probably forever. I think he’ll be fine, the most difficult thing is going be the speed of the game, the athleticism on the wing and guards, the rim protection. The centers and shot blockers at the rim are not really there in Europe. I think those are some of the things he’ll have to adjust to. It will be fun.”
It’s impressive to hear Dirk say these things. We already know Dirk isn’t one to blow smoke about guys and every time he’s mentioned Doncic it’s been pretty effusive. Can we just start playing the games now? We have to still wait? Ugh, fine.