DALLAS - If you listen to Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, he and the team he leads don't just have a desire to make the NBA Playoffs in 2019-20 -- they have a "need'' to do so.
"We will,'' Luka said in an interview when asked about the strength and depth of the NBA's Western Conference and Dallas' plans for the season. "We'll make the playoffs. We must.''
The questioning of Luka also features the "plan'' to win a title.
"I always like to say,'' Doncic said, "my plans are to win the championship.''
But yes, first things first. There are ways to project the Mavs as a playoff team despite the long drought and despite the observation that beyond the retention and return to health of Kristaps Porzingis, this edition of the Dallas Mavericks hasn't much of a track record yet.
But Doncic is, of course, the anchor runner in what MFFL hope is a track record to come.
Luka was recently named the winner of the 2018 NBA Rookie of the Year by the voters in what turned out to be a landslide. Doncic, who became the first Dallas Mavericks player to win the award outright in franchise history, had one of the most impressively productive seasons for a first-year player in NBA history.
After establishing himself as the leader and go-to guy of the team after just a handful of games, Doncic finished the year leading the Mavericks in almost every major statistical category, becoming the first rookie since Oscar Robertson in 1960-61 to average 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, six assists, and 1.1 steals per game.
Doncic also took home all six NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month awards this season, making a clean sweep of the honors.
But as Luka moves on, his fitness improved (as you can see from the above Instagram pic featuring Hugo) his competition is less and less about "the Class of 2018.'' With Dirk Nowitzki now retired, the next accomplishment on Doncic's list will be leading his franchise to the playoffs for the first time since the 2015-16 season. ... something he believes Dallas "will do'' ... and "must do.''