The hype is real.
Luka Doncic, the Slovenian who took Spain’s EuroLeague by storm the last two seasons, is now doing the same in his first season in the NBA. The 19-year-old has been a revelation for the Dallas Mavericks, who traded a pair of first-round picks on draft night to acquire the talented point forward.
The price seemed steep at the time, but 25 games into Doncic’s career, it appears as though the Mavericks didn’t give enough in the deal. Doncic has been every bit as good as he was in the EuroLeague, where he became the youngest player in history to win MVP last season.
And now, like he did with Real Madrid, Doncic has turned his own impressive play into victories for his team. The Mavericks are riding high behind the stellar play of Doncic, who was recently named the Rookie of the Month for October/November.
While Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III went before Doncic in June, it’s the Slovenian forward leading the way for Rookie of the Year. He isn’t the clear runaway favorite like Ben Simmons was a year ago, but Doncic is still sitting pretty at -182 on 888Sport.
And that’s where Doncic separates himself. Consider these numbers for the 19-year-old and the company he’s put himself in:
|1970||Kareem Abdul Jabbar||28.8||14.5||4.1|
Eight of these nine guys wound up winning Rookie of the Year; Magic Johnson was the only player on the list who didn’t, because he was in the same class as Bird.
Yes, Doncic is putting up numbers from a rookie we haven’t seen in more than two decades, and only LeBron James has posted similar numbers as a rookie. That -182 number is only going to go up as the year progresses. It’s time to pounce on those odds now.
Doncic has been a pleasant surprise, and so has his team. The Dallas Mavericks entered the 2019 NBA season with +4000 odds to win the Southwest Division, one that included the Houston Rockets and New Orleans Pelicans. Their season-long win total was set at 34.5, one of the lowest in the Western Conference.
And yet here they are, sitting at 12-11 having won seven of their last 10 games to pull within two games of the division-leading Grizzlies. They’re 15th in the NBA in net rating and their defense has really picked it up with the arrival of DeAndre Jordan. It’s tough to see them winning the division, but those preseason odds have shifted to just +1200, so oddsmakers are taking note of just how good Doncic and Co. have been.
It’s going to be an incredibly tough field this year, given how close teams are in the Western Conference, but Rick Carlisle should get consideration. If he’s actually able to turn a 24-win Mavericks team into a playoff team in a Western Conference that added LeBron James in the offseason, who could say they coached a team better than he?
Again, it’s going to be tough given how well teams like the Raptors (Nick Nurse) and Bucks (Mike Budenholzer) are playing, but on the off chance the Mavericks are for real and continue playing like this, Carlisle’s +10000 odds on 888Sport are definitely worth watching.
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