Last week Luka Doncic fans changed their favorite sentence from “he’s only 19” to “he’s only 20.” The Mavericks rookie said after the win over Indiana he had no big plans for a birthday party, just a low key night with his family and girlfriend.
Salah Mejri joked that he’d spend the whole night playing the video game Fortnite. Luka’s love of video games and his childlike enthusiasm hint at his true age, but everything else about the young man characterizes him as a grown man.
As a teenager Doncic played 57 games, scored 1194 points, won four of four Western Conference Rookie of the Month awards, was nearly voted an All-Star, and captivated the entire league. After Doncic’s final game as a teenager Rick Carlisle was asked what he thought about all he was able to accomplish in the NBA as a teenager.
“One word: phenomenal. It’s been quite an adventure with him and everything that has gone on,” Carlisle said.
“The amount of excitement, enthusiasm and interest he’s generated and yet he’s not looking for attention. His place of sanctuary is the court. That’s where he’s comfortable and where he loves to play.”
After that game I asked Doncic what he wanted to accomplish at age 20 and his answer was so simple it caught me a little off guard. Luka said he just wanted to continue to play basketball like always.
His consistency at such a young age helps him maintain this level of success. Carlisle sings the praises of players like Harrison Barnes and Jalen Brunson who are the same every single day no matter if they’re slumping or playing the best basketball of their life.
Players Luka’s age are rarely able to maintain this level of consistency, then again most players his age haven’t won European championships and MVPs.
Dirk Nowitzki often praises Doncic for this level of consistency he never had at that age. Reporters often ask Nowitzki what advice he’s given Luka as a European veteran trying to help a young Euro rookie find his place in a new country.
His response is always the same. Dirk says he doesn’t give Luka advice, because he doesn’t need it. This is the second time Doncic has left his home to play basketball in a foreign country where he doesn’t speak the language.
As a teenager Doncic broke records and wowed the world with his abilities. Luka Doncic is no longer a teenager, but he never felt like one as a Maverick.