Over the years, the NBA has seen an abundance of young prospects who have gone on to make huge impacts on their careers. This season has been no exception. The 2019-2020 regular season has seen a host of young talents grabbing the headlines week in, week out with their exciting displays. Among the list of these crop of emerging talents is none other than the last season’s Rookie of the Year award winner and one of the favorites for the MVP accolade this season, Shooting Guard Luka Dončić. The young Slovenian who turned 21 on Friday has been the focal point of a Dallas Mavericks team that has sparkled at certain stages of the season. The Mavericks are currently sitting seventh in the Western Conference and second in the Southwest Division with a 36-24 win-loss record this season. The team is now pushing for a place in the playoffs with 22 games. Their performances this season have seen them emerge as one of the season’s “Surprise Packages.”
It is a bit of an understatement to suggest that the Mavericks would have been in their current position without Luka Dončić in the team. In just his second season for the Mavericks, Luka Dončić has become a cult hero amongst the Mavericks fans.
The young Slovenian has stolen the show on countless occasions on the court, and it is fair to say that he has been the one carrying the team all season. The fact of the matter is that the Mavericks perform well when Dončić is at his best. Here, we profile Luka Dončić, his journey to the NBA, and his overall performances this season.
The “Man” Luka Dončić and His Journey to the NBA
Luka Dončić was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia. With his father being a Basketball coach and former basketball player himself, it was evident that Luka Dončić was gradually going to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in Basketball.
Luka Dončić began his youth career at Union Olimpija at the age of 8. His exciting performance in his first Basketball practice for the team saw him promoted to the Under-11 squad despite being much younger. His impressive performances with the Under-11s accelerated his development saw him move to the Under-14s. The defining moment of his youth career at Union Olimpija came in the Under-14 Vasas Intesa Sanpaolo Cup in Budapest when he was adjudged the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the final against FC Barcelona despite finishing as runners-up. His impressive performances attracted the attention of a lot of Basketball teams in Europe with Dončić ultimately joining Real Madrid on loan for an Under-14 Spanish Competition called the Minicopa Endesa. Real Madrid would go on to finish the competition as Runners-up. However, Luka Dončić stole the show once again and was adjudged the competition’s MVP after averaging 13.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 3.3 steals per game.
Dončić’s talent, ability, and hard work saw him move to Real Madrid permanently on a five-year contract at the age of 13 years. His permanent move saw him link up with Madrid’s Under-16s and eventually the Under-18s, where he went on to enjoy success in a couple of tournaments. Dončić also won individual accolades before his rise to the Real Madrid Senior Basketball team.
Dončić’s first professional season with the Real Madrid Senior team saw him average 4.5 points, 1.7 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game in 39 Liga ACB season games. He also averaged 3.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, and two assists per game in 12 EuroLeague games. Dončić’s impressive numbers in his first season represented a fair return for a player emerging from the lower ranks of the team.
Dončić would go on to become a big part of the team and claim individual accolades such as the EuroLeague Rising Star and ACB Best Young Player Award in his second season averaging 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game in a breakout year.
His third and final season with the Real Madrid Senior side saw Luka Dončić win the EuroLeague and claim the EuroLeague Final Four MVP award, EuroLeague MVP award, EuroLeague Rising Star and ACB Best Young Player amongst a host of other individual awards before his departure for the NBA.
His Incredible Stats This Season
After a remarkable first season with the Mavericks which saw him win the Rookie of the Year award in the 2018-2019 season and become the fifth player in NBA history to finish a season with an average of at least 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game in his rookie year, this season has seen Dončić’s stock rise rapidly in the NBA. His incredible performances have already earned Dončić an NBA All-Star status after participating in this year’s NBA All-Star Game.
In the regular season, Dončić has averaged 28.6 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game in 48 games for the Mavericks this season. These average numbers show an increase from the average 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game he recorded in 72 games last season. Dončić has also scored 1,373 total points so far this season, 153 fewer than his tally of 1,526 for the whole of last season. He is currently ranked 6th overall for the most averaged points this season. Earlier this season, Dončić became the first player in NBA history to score 300 three-pointers before turning 21. Dončić has also hit 13 triple-doubles this season. It is evident that Dončić has really upped his game and is now in the same conversation as LeBron and Giannis as the NBA’s top stars.
What’s next for Dončić?
For Dončić, the focus now will be on securing a playoff spot for the Mavericks with a lot of games remaining. The Mavericks will be looking to return to winning ways in a crunch game at home to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday after losing to Chicago Bulls on Tuesday.