Despite the ferocious on-court play, All-Star Weekend is a reminder that many NBA players like each other. Take Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic, for example.
Speaking with reporters, reigning MVP and Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic went on the record to tell reporters what it is that makes Doncic such a special talent.
“He’s a one-man army,” Jokic explained. “He’s the guy who can destroy you. Who can really man manipulate the game the right way. There is no good matchup for him. If he has a smaller guy, he’s gonna post him up. If he has a bigger guy, he’s gonna go by him. He has a deadly step-back.”
Jokic went on to praise Doncic’s brain, as well. It’s a high compliment coming from a player in Jokic whose own IQ and vision are big reasons for his individual success.
“He has a really, really, really, big basketball IQ. He has a really good view, seeing the floor really on a different level. Basketball-wise, he’s a really, really unique player,” the Nuggets star admitted.
And who knows, Jokic might even be willing to grab a beer (or sweet tea) with Doncic:
“And the personal, he’s a really good guy. Like a guy you can hang out with.”
Jokic is the favorite to take home his third-straight MVP award, sitting at -240 according to Caesar’s Sportsbook. Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid is second at +600, while Doncic is at +850.
De’Aaron Fox Drops Take on Doncic, Kyrie Irving
Jokic isn’t the only one to praise Doncic. After the Sacramento Kings bested the Mavericks last week, Kings star De’Aaron Fox sent some love to Dallas’ superstar tandem.
“Those two are great players, I think they’ll both be hall of famers. For us, we want to continue to make it tough on them, Fox said via the Sacramento Kings YouTube Channel.
Fox went on to explain what having both Irving and Doncic on the floor together does for opposing defenses.
“Obviously, if you only have one of those guys, as soon as they (give up the ball) then you try and deny them. But with it being two of those type of players, as a team you have to try and be on a string… They’re going to make tough shots, they’re going to make tough shots every game. But you just want to continue to make that type of stuff beat you… if they’re making tough shots and they beat you then you just dap them up and move on,” Fox explained.
Fox is on to something. When Irving and Doncic take the floor together, they are blistering opponents to the tune of a plus-10.5 net rating. Question marks defensively persist, however; Dallas is surrendering 120.7 points per 100 possessions in lineups featuring both Irving and Doncic.
Shaq Disses Irving After Blockbuster Trade
But not everyone is thrilled with Irving’s antics. After all, a shock trade request sent Irving to Dallas in the first place.
And after the request came through, NBA Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal ripped Irving for asking off of the Brooklyn Nets.
“Sometimes you have to look at yourself,” O’Neal said via Ben Golliver. “KD was no problem in Brooklyn, so let’s exclude him. Mr. Irving had a lot of stuff going on. James, I don’t know him. So, sometimes you have to look at yourself. I did a lot of crazy stuff. But, at the end of it all I knew my mother was watching, so I tried to keep it professional.”
But Shaq noted that the buck has to stop somewhere. And in Irving’s case, it’s with the player himself.
“But, sometimes you just have to look in the mirror,” O’Neal concluded. “When you ask to go somewhere and it don’t work out, it’s not always somebody else’s fault. See, I was raised different. Like, my father didn’t play the excuses thing. When I went and we didn’t win, it’s your fault.”