Playoff Luka? Mavs Superstar was Born for This
A lot has happened in the world since the night of March 11, when the Dallas Mavericks shredded the Denver Nuggets at AAC to improve to 40-27 on the season. Around halftime of that game is when we all found out that the season had been suspended, and the NBA has been put on hold ever since. With the NBA expected to finalize its 22-team return-to-play plan on Thursday, we're starting to imagine what sophomore superstar Luka Doncic will look like in his first postseason with the Mavs.
Doncic is no stranger to pressure. He left his home at the young age of 13 years to sign a five-year deal with Real Madrid. At age 16, after spending time with Real Madrid's youth squads, Doncic made his official professional debut. At age 17, Doncic was asking Real Madrid coach Pablo Laso for the chance to guard Russell Westbrook in a preseason game against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Mavs' Director of Player Personnel Tony Ronzone told the Mavs Step Back Podcast.
The bright lights of postseason basketball won't be anything new to Doncic either, as he led Real Madrid - considered by many to be the best professional team in the best professional league outside of the NBA - to a EuroLeague championship as a 19-year-old among grown men, just weeks before being selected by the Mavs in the 2018 draft. And as most will remember, Doncic helped clinch that title for Real Madrid with one of the most impressive one-handed floaters from three... ok, ok, the only impressive one-handed floater from three we've ever seen in a professional basketball game.
"It's difficult," said Doncic of trying to always live up to such high expectations an 2018 interview with As.com a few months after the Mavs drafted him.
"But I lived with pressure since I was 15. I am used to it. I know that it will always be there, but I'm not afraid of pressure."
Doncic has lived up to those words nearly two years into his NBA career, having won the Rookie of the Year award with ease in Year One, and now being on track to make the All-NBA First Team in Year Two while averaging 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists on the season. And now, the NBA postseason is merely the next step in the basketball prodigy's journey.
In that same 2018 interview referenced earlier, Doncic was asked what he wanted to accomplish five years into his NBA career.
"To be an NBA Champion," said Doncic. "It would be another dream achieved."
Doncic has three more seasons to fulfill that dream in his desired timeframe, and given what he's been able to do in his professional basketball career up to this point, who is to say he won't reach that goal? To have a chance, though, your team has to make the playoffs, and the Mavs are set to play postseason basketball for the first time in three seasons, thanks largely in part to the contributions of Doncic.
Are we saying Doncic and the Mavs will win a championship this season? Absolutely not. Theoretically, it's still "too soon" for this team to take that kind of leap, right? However, in a season filled with unprecedented circumstances, is it possible we could see some unprecedented results, especially since the rest of the season will be determined at a neutral site in Disney World? We believe so.
Luka Doncic was born for this. He and his teammates are more than well-rested and itching to get back on the court together. Now, after already waiting two more months than we were supposed to, there's two more months to go before we can see 'Luka Magic' on a postseason level, but it should be well worth the wait.