Luka Doncic has been unbelievably good to start the 2019-20 season, averaging 29.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 9.4 assists through 14 games. Currently, he’s shooting 48.6% from the field, 33.6% from 3 (that one could stand to improve), and 81.1% from the charity stripe, all of which gives him an eFG% of 56.3%. He’s been so impressive, in fact, the 20-year-old has already launched himself into the early-season MVP discussion. But while most everything has been working for Luka individually, the Dallas Mavericks as a team have had more mixed results, something the Slovenian star is more than aware of. Despite joining LeBron James as only the second player in NBA history to record a 40 point triple-double before turning 21, Luka took time to acknowledge the team’s need for continued growth.
Luka wasn’t excited after his first 40-point triple-double, joining LeBron as the only players in NBA history do so before turning 21:
“We can be even better than 8-5. We had some games we should’ve won. But we could be worse too, so I’ll take that. We just keep rising.”
— Callie Caplan (@CallieCaplan) November 19, 2019
As Luka points out, while Dallas is off to its best start in four years, it’s record could be considerably better, although with a different bounce here or there, it could also be a smidgen worse. Luka not only keeps good perspective on that fact but assumes the role of a leader in expressing that he’s not content with the relate quality of play the team has shown to date. Dallas has scored quality wins against teams like the Denver Nuggets, Toronto Raptors, and, most recently, the San Antonio Spurs, and they’ve come tantalizingly close in other games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Lakers, and Boston Celtics. All told, that would make for quite the resume. Unfortunately, that still leaves you with not one, but two mind-boggling losses to the 4-win New York Knicks, and it’s because of this that many have understandably been left scratching their heads in an attempt to figure out just how good this Dallas team is.
Nobody questions Doncic’s individual greatness, but all throughout the offseason and early into the first few weeks of this season, questions have persisted: do the Mavericks have enough talent around Luka to secure a playoff birth for the first time in three years despite playing in a monstrous Western Conference? Only time will tell, but there is reason for hope. With each passing game, Doncic’s running mate, Kristaps Porzingis seems to be getting his feet back under him following a 20 month layoff as he recovered from a torn ACL. Additionally, some of the Mavs’ key role players have yet to find the kind of consistency many expect them to find. This includes players like Seth Curry, Delon Wright, Justin Jackson, Dorian Finney-Smith, Tim Hardaway Jr., etc. It’s important that Dallas get those guys going, and Luka is plainly savvy to that, pointing out Finney-Smith’s career night at the very beginning of his post-game interview with Jeff “Skin” Wade the other night.
"Dorian Finney-Smith. That's it."
Even after scoring a career high 42, @Luka7Doncic gave credit to his teammate (and a hug to @mcuban)!#MFFL | @SkinWade pic.twitter.com/zt8qVBGY14
— Bally Sports Southwest (@BallySportsSW) November 19, 2019
In the game, Finney-Smith stepped up to the tune of 22 points (a career-high), 5 rebounds, and 3 assists on 8/10 from the field. He also knocked down an improbable shot at the end of the shot clock that saved Dallas from a key turnover in a two point game. So while you can’t readily expect this kind of play from Finney-Smith on a nightly basis, the important thing is that you can rely on the bench as a whole and perhaps one particular player to step up to act as the third man. We’ve seen Seth Curry and the much-maligned Tim Hardaway Jr do this in Memphis and last night against Golden State, Delon Wright against the Raptors, and now Finney-Smith against the Spurs. All it takes is one or two guys to step up behind Doncic and Porzingis to lift this team from the middle of the pack to potential contenders status, and Luka knows it.
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