Mavericks Star Luka Doncic Called Out over Potential Summer Hangover

Luka Doncic Dallas Mavericks

Getty Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks.

Unfortunately for Luka Doncic, Slovenia didn’t repeat as EuroBasket champions this summer. In fact, the team didn’t even medal. Fortunately for the Dallas Mavericks, it means Doncic might have been saved a few extra miles of wear and tear ahead of the season.

Over the course of five games at the European tournament, Doncic logged 164 minutes, roughly 32.8 minutes per game. That, after Doncic led the Mavs to a deep postseason run that saw him play 36.8 minutes over 15 games. All of this to say, it’s been a busy few months for the Dallas superstar.

On one hand, that might be great. Last season, Doncic was called out after entering camp looking bigger and slower than usual. A little extra time on the court could go a long way towards changing that narrative. But on the other hand, the added minutes could see Doncic break down during the season. That’s why Doncic’s “wear and tear” from EuroBasket was one of ESPN’s “Five Big Questions” heading into the new season.

“The extra mileage on star players [like Doncic] heading into the season could be a concern, particularly with this year’s addition of qualifying games for next summer’s World Cup as part of the lead-up to EuroBasket,” wrote Kevin Pelton of ESPN on September 21.

Fortunately, the experts at ESPN aren’t too concerned about Doncic’s ability to last the season.

Summer Wear and Tear Not a Concern with Doncic

While the NBA season might not really begin until after the All-Star Break, a slow start can bury a team beneath layers of scrutiny and discontent. Nonetheless, stars usually take some time to find their footing during the new season. Last season, for example, the Mavericks opened the season 9-4, but Doncic posted a poor minus-6.6 net rating through that span.

But that was last year when Doncic spent the summer without a tournament or basketball competition to distract him. And history shows that when he does have summers with the national team, he tends to come back strong.

“The last time EuroBasket was played in 2017, Doncic helped establish his NBA potential by leading Slovenia to the gold alongside MVP Goran Dragic. He subsequently became the youngest EuroLeague MVP ever. Because Slovenia did not qualify for the last World Cup, Doncic next took the court for his country in last summer’s Olympics. Although enough time passed after that competition for Doncic to enter training camp heavier than his normal playing weight — which shouldn’t be the case this time around — he showed plenty of stamina taking the Dallas Mavericks to this year’s West finals,” Pelton explained.

But any EuroBasket hangover could be crushing to the several teams who are expecting big help from their stars.

Luka Doncic Was Not the Only NBA Star at EuroBasket

Few stars matter to their team quite like Doncic does to the Mavericks. But two other major NBA stars might come close: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Rudy Gobert.

Giannis is a two-time MVP who would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer if he retired this minute. And he’s crucial to the Milwaukee Bucks’ chances in the playoffs. While Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton are nice sidekicks, there’s no question that Giannis runs the show in the Cream City.

Gobert, on the other hand, is settling into new digs in Minnesota, having been traded this summer from the Utah Jazz. The defensive legend can’t afford too much time off or an extended ramp-up time; he’ll need to find a groove quickly with Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and DeAngelo Russell.

If any of these three stars start out the season slow, it could lead to significant head scratching by fans and analysts. It could also set their respective teams back early in the race for playoff seeding. For Giannis, it could be a death sentence in the newly revamped Eastern Conference. For Gobert and Doncic, a slow start could be equally devastating in a Western Conference equally loaded with star power.

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