DALLAS - Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, in the face of harsh criticism on the national TNT telecast of his team's 102-99 home loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday acknowledged a weight and conditioning issue, admitted his efforts in that area has "got to be better."
Analyst and Hall of Famer guard Reggie Miller, working on the TNT, said during the game that Doncic was "plodding up and down the court" and "has got to trim down."
"People are going to talk about it, yes or no," said Doncic after a game in which he had 28 points, six rebounds and nine assists. "I know I've got to do better.
"I had a long summer. I had the Olympics, took three weeks off, and I relaxed a little bit. Maybe too much. I've just got to get back on track."
That is an unusual twist from the 6-7 Doncic, who is reportedly 30 pounds heavier than his listed weight of 230. He went to work for the Slovenian national team almost immediately after Dallas was eliminated from the NBA playoffs, helping his country finish a surprisingly impressive fourth in its first-ever Olympics.
The thought at the time was that the year-'round schedule might result in Doncic being tired, not overweight.
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Doncic has dealt with this criticism before. A year ago, he deflected it with humor, saying, "What can I say? I've never been a muscular guy.'' And it is easy for him to win such an argument, as a two-time first-team All-NBA selection who at 22 is averaging 25.5 points, 7.9 rebounds and 8.5 assists and remains an MVP-level player.
But as the Mavs slide - they have lost eight of their last 10 - Doncic is dealing with injury issues (a sprained left knee and ankle, in addition to a sprained thumb). If he's 30 points overweight, that isn't helping his leg issues.
"It's still painful, but I try to play and try to practice," Doncic said of the ankle. "But it's still painful."
So, maybe, is the criticism, and as brilliant as he is, it is not unfair to wonder about the still-untapped potential that exists in the form of an in-shape Luka Doncic.