Luka Doncic Hasn’t Changed the Mavericks’ Timeline – He Is Their Timeline

    Luka Doncic is the real deal. The Mavericks made the big splash on draft day, acquiring Doncic from the Hawks for Trae Young and a 2019 protected

    January 14, 2019

    Luka Doncic is the real deal.

    The Mavericks made the big splash on draft day, acquiring Doncic from the Hawks for Trae Young and a 2019 protected first-round pick. The jury is still out on which team ‘won’ the trade and will be for the next few seasons, but Dallas should be happy with Doncic’s progression and how it sets the franchise up going forward.

    Only three players in NBA history have put together 20 points, six rebounds and five assists per game in their rookie season. Doncic would join Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson if he kept up his current pace. Pretty good company.

    But it’s not the just the stats; it’s the moments Doncic has created along the way that fans have gravitated towards. The Mavericks have featured him in the offense immediately and he has not disappointed.

    Doncic’s first big moment came in Portland with 0.6 seconds left on the clock. He nailed a step-back 3-pointer to send the game to overtime after the Mavericks closed a 10-point gap in the fourth quarter.

    The defense in the above clip is non-existent, but it takes some guts to immediately rush into an open 3-pointer instead of working the clock. Doncic recognized the opening quickly and has been given the opportunity to go for those shots, producing great moments.

    Doncic has developed a killer step-back shot and he put that on display against the Warriors Sunday. He got Andre Iguodala in the first quarter and then connected over Kevin Durant to close the third period. And he also produced the following moment, which lit NBA Twitter on fire again.

    Doncic is leading the Mavericks in points and is second in rebounds and assists. With top assist man J.J. Barea out for the season, it’s reasonable to expect Doncic’s assist total to jump in the second half of his rookie year. He’s generated more points off assists than Barea already.

    Warriors head coach Steve Kerr (who has five All-Stars on his team) said Doncic is playing at an All-Star level. Stadium NBA Insider Shams Charania said Doncic has changed the timeline for Dallas’ rebuild. In my opinion, Doncic hasn’t changed the timeline. He is the timeline.

    Doncic’s unexpected level of production has changed the franchise’s trajectory beyond this season. The Mavericks will have Doncic on a rookie deal for the next three seasons before he hits restricted free agency. Dallas will be flush with cap space even if Harrison Barnes and Dwight Powell accept their player options. Based on what Barnes and Powell do, the Mavericks will have amazing roster flexibility and can retool the team around Doncic’s skillset.

    Dallas’ most-used five-man, four-man and three-man lineups all feature Doncic but have a negative point differential per 100 possessions. The four most-used four-man lineups and five most-used three-man lineups featuring Doncic also sport a negative point differential. The current roster isn’t a perfect fit for Doncic’s abilities. Luckily, the Mavericks will have an immediate opportunity to change that.

    There are still some question marks for Doncic. Dallas’ defensive rating takes a hit when Doncic is on the floor and his brilliant offensive output hasn’t been able to make up that difference yet. The Mavericks are competing for a playoff spot with Doncic, but are currently on the outside looking in. Given the nature of the Western conference, making the playoffs is no sure thing. There’s a low chance Dallas keeps its 2019 first-round pick, something the Mavericks could really use to expedite the retooling process. Dennis Smith Jr.’s name has been thrown around in trade rumors and his fit with Doncic has been complicated, but he’s young enough that Dallas could give it another season.

    This was supposed to be a transition year for Doncic. Instead, it’s become a revelation year for the Mavericks.

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