"Limitless" is a word that often comes to mind when I think of 21-year-old Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic.
Sure, there is something to be said about that old adage, "You must learn to crawl before you can walk," but at what point do we stop putting a ceiling on what Doncic is capable of, and accept that he's already sprinting?
After a magnificent rookie campaign in 2018-2019 in which he proved many of his critics wrong, one of those 'ceilings' Doncic had to break through heading into his sophomore year was the idea that he was already close to his full potential, being that he wasn't an ordinary rookie. After all, Doncic had been a professional basketball player since his early teen years with Real Madrid.
Doncic, however, broke through in a huge way, yet again, this time by carrying the Mavs to within a game-and-a-half of being one of the top four teams in the Western Conference, pushing the Los Angeles Clippers in Round 1 despite the Mavs' limited depth due to injuries, and making the All-NBA First Team while averaging close to a 30-point triple-double.
As coach Rick Carlisle has said, "He's a savant.''
Time after time, Doncic has been doubted, at least since he's been in the NBA, and he has, in turn, proved those doubters wrong every step of the way. That said, the doubters are shrinking by the day, as we've seen in the preseason with the national media placing Doncic and the Mavs near the top of their rankings.
The hype around Doncic and the Mavs is higher than it's been since he entered the league. However, I'm willing to take it step beyond by saying that Doncic is capable of carrying the Mavs to a championship ... not later ... but right now.
Is this an etched-in-hardwood prediction? Not at all.
There are still a few Western Conference titans out there that Doncic must conquer to reach that lofty goal. But just like LeBron James did for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the season where he turned 22, Doncic has the talent and a strong enough supporting cast to bring a title to Dallas one decade after Dirk Nowitzki secured the franchise's first.
"Every year, I want to be better. That’s the goal," said Doncic. "I want to win the championship. That’s the goal we entered last year, that’s the goal we’re going to enter this year as a whole group."
For a franchise that improved its roster over the offseason, it's not hard to envision the Mavs taking another big step as a team this season, especially if Doncic continues to improve the way he has so far in his career from year-to-year.
Even before Doncic's co-star Kristaps Porzingis makes his way back to the court, Dallas still has a talented and deep enough roster to make some noise in his absence, starting in Wednesday's NBA opener and continuing on Christmas night at the Lakers.
Make no doubt, Doncic and the Mavs still have a lot to prove before they make a run at at championship. Just don't be surprised if "limitless'' Luka finds a way to make it all happen ... now.