DALLAS - Luka Doncic is a top-five player in the NBA ... at least according to ESPN.
Coming off of a season in which he was named to the NBA's All-First Team, the Dallas Mavericks's 21-year old superstar point guard was named as the No. 4 player in ESPN's preseason player rankings, dubbing him the NBA's 'next great superstar', and adding even more expectations to his upcoming campaign.
Doncic, who ranked 16th in last year's rankings, jumped 12 spots following his historic sophomore season, in which he averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game, and led the Mavs to their first playoff appearance since 2015-16.
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The next great superstar served notice to the league in his second season, becoming the youngest player ever to earn All-NBA First Team honors based on age as of opening night. Doncic impressed in his playoff debut versus the LA Clippers, knocking down a 28-foot, step-back winner in overtime and averaging 31.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 8.7 assists in the six-game series. Next for Doncic: Leading the Mavs to a series win for the first time since their 2011 championship. Based on what we've seen from Doncic, that's a matter of when, not if.
Doncic's four spot slides him into the rankings among impressive company, two spots ahead of Brooklyn's Kevin Durant, one spot ahead of Clippers star Kawhi Leonard, and one spot behind last season's reigning MVP, Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The rankings also list the Los Angeles Lakers star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the 1 and 2 spots, respectively.
Doncic and the Mavs will face three of those top five players within the first three games of the upcoming regular season, facing the Lakers in primetime on Christmas Day, followed by Leonard, Paul George (ESPN's 20th ranked player), and the Clippers two nights later.
Mavs second star Kristaps Porzingis also made the list, coming in at No. 41 ahead of Orlando's Nikola Vuvevic, and behind Toronto's Fred Van Fleet.