He finished with 19 points, six rebounds and five assists. And that was in 15 minutes of time on the floor. Yes, 15 minutes.
On a night when the Jazz held out every one of their starters, Mavs star Luka Doncic put an exclamation point on his preseason debut, posting star-caliber numbers in less than half the playing time he will typically get. It would only be natural that, in Year 4 of his NBA career, Doncic would build on his three already jaw-dropping seasons with Dallas, but on Wednesday, Doncic appeared to be a guy who simply got better in every aspect of the game, including conditioning and killer instinct.
Not bad for a guy who averaged 25.7 points, 8.4 rebounds and 7.7 assists in his career to this point.
Recently, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban addressed what he expected to see for improvements to Doncic’s game this year.
“Just to continue to get better,” Cuban told Sirius XM Radio. “That’s the thing about great all-time players, they add something to their game every summer. They work and they practice until they can’t get it wrong so they can implement it in games. That’s who Luka is. That sets an example for all of our guys. I think that is going to manifest itself on the court—he’ll be better, and when he’s better, that lifts everybody. KP will be better. New guys that come in and, plus when you have a new coach, you have a new freedom.”
The Mavs Replaced Cach Rick Carlisle with Jason Kidd0
The Mavericks did not undergo a major roster overhaul, adding role players like Reggie Bullock, Frank Ntilikina and Sterling Brown. All should be contributors, but for the Mavs to make any real strides as a team—which would mean getting past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2011—they’ll need Doncic to shine and, hopefully, bring fellow star player Kristaps Porzingis with him.
That, according to Cuban, will be up to new coach Jason Kidd. With the departure of respected veteran coach Rick Carlisle this offseason, the hope is that having a star player like Kidd on the sideline will be an inspiration for Doncic.
Here’s how Cuban put it:
It’s different. Without question because J-Kidd, Luka grew up watching J-Kidd as a point guard. And so you can’t be a fan of the game and not respect what J-Kidd has done. When J-Kidd says, ‘OK, here’s what’s going to happen in this set of circumstances because I’ve seen it 957 times and it is not going to be different the 958th, I think that is just a connection and an expression that is unique to Jason no matter where he is with any player. I think there is also a little more freedom because J-Kidd, as a point guard, when he was here, it was more, ‘OK, we’ll run less plays because I can manage everything in real time.’ I think Luka’s going to get that freedom—and Rick gave him freedom as well, but Luka’s going to get even more freedom because J-Kidd will tell him what to expect.
Doncic Seeking to Cut Back on Technical Fouls
Oh, and there’s one more thing that Cuban himself can help out Doncic with—the technical fouls. Doncic has quickly earned a reputation for being one of the NBA’s biggest complainers.
Cuban has a solution: “I tell him to let me do the yelling.”
But even if Doncic can’t resist putting in his two cents, Cuban said that won’t hold him back.
“He could set the all-time record, I don’t care. Look, Draymond (Green, of the Warriors), it did not stop Draymond from winning a lot of rings. Luka is just a passionate player. And so it comes out. But with J-Kidd, J-Kidd will teach him the tools of the trade on how to deal with that. You know, J-Kidd was also very, very passionate but he had his ways of addressing those things. I think just having that recent experience, J-Kidd will be able to help Luka in how to deal with the referees.”