How “Wonder Boy” Luka Doncic is making an early MVP case

By Pershelle Rohrer

December 15, 2019

Pershelle Rohrer is a first-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

Luka Doncic may be only twenty years old, but his youth isn’t stopping him from impressing early in his second NBA season. The guard from Slovenia is off to a hot start for the Dallas Mavericks this year, collecting awards and accolades for his play and drawing attention from the media as an early MVP favorite.

Doncic was crowned Rookie of the Year for his performance during the 2018-19 season. He became just the second rookie in NBA history to average at least 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists per game, joining Oscar Robertson as the only other player to accomplish the feat (“10 things to know,” 2019). Doncic currently leads the league in triple-doubles (7) and holds the record for the most triple-doubles before his 21st birthday (15). His efforts earned him the October and November player of the month award as well as the Sports Illustrated 2019 Breakout of the Year Award (“Mavericks’ Luka Doncic,” 2019). 

Doncic is playing like a superstar, continuing to “assault the NBA record book” (Owens, 2019). He recently recorded his 19th straight game of at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists, breaking Michael Jordan’s record since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976. He only trails Oscar Robertson (29 games from 1964 to 1965) in such games all-time (Owens, 2019). He is the second player under 21 to record a 40-point triple-double, joining his idol LeBron James in accomplishing the feat (Rader, 2019). He is third in the NBA in scoring, second in assists, and twelfth in rebounds among all players, practically averaging a triple-double with 30.0 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 9.2 assists per game (“Luka Doncic,” 2019).

The third overall pick in the 2018 NBA draft, Doncic has helped revive a Dallas Mavericks team that finished 33-49 last season. The Mavericks are red hot, having won 10 of their last 12 games en route to a 16-7 record, which is good for third in the Western Conference (“Dallas Mavericks”, 2019). Doyle Rader (2019), a contributor to Forbes, illustrates Doncic’s impact on the organization, writing that “The team looks rejuvenated and the atmosphere inside the American Airlines Center is buzzing and vibrant.” 

Doncic was supposed to be good, but he became a breakout star much sooner than anticipated. He is projected to not only be selected to his first NBA All-Star Game, but he is in MVP conversations already, being mentioned among players such as James Harden, who leads the league in scoring, reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James, one of the greatest players of all time (Manrique, 2019). 

Doncic could have been one of the rare rookies selected as an NBA All-Star last season, but he was overlooked by the media in favor of veteran players. All-stars are selected through a voting process that includes fans, players, and the media. Doncic received 4.2 million fan votes, which was third only to LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo but he did not receive the media and player votes to qualify as a starter (Golliver, 2019). He was then bypassed by the coaches, who selected the reserves. The media missed out on the opportunity to help send one of the league’s most intriguing young stars to the All-Star game, something that many fans would have loved to see. Like Rader (2019) said, “Everyone wants to experience their own piece of Luka magic” (para. 17).

Despite not being selected as an all-star last year, Doncic is considered a lock for this year’s game by most media members unless something goes drastically wrong. However, they also have the opportunity to potentially make him the youngest MVP in NBA history. Derrick Rose was 22 years old when he won the award in 2010-11. Doncic will be 21 years old at the conclusion of the season, and his current numbers are similar to those of Russell Westbrook in his 2016-17 MVP campaign.

Doncic’s stellar play causes him to receive heaping praise from many media members. Mo Dakhil (2019) writes, “Luka Doncic is running the Dallas Mavericks offense the way a maestro conducts an orchestra” (para. 1). Mike Prada (2019) argues that he is a top-five player this year. Mary Louise Kelly (2019) claims that sportswriters are already suggesting that he could potentially be an all-time great. From the beginning of the calendar year to now, media members have gone from leaving Doncic off the All-Star ballot to considering “Wonder Boy” a legitimate MVP candidate. As the season continues, Doncic’s development is something to watch for as he tries to become the youngest MVP in the history of the league. 

References

Dakhil, M. (2019, December 9). The play that’s turned Luka Doncic into an MVP candidate. Bleacher Report. Retrieved from https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2866004-the-play-that-has-turned-luka-doncic-into-an-mvp-candidate

Dallas Mavericks. (2019). ESPN.com. Retrieved from https://www.espn.com/nba/team/schedule/_/name/dal

Golliver, B. (2019, December 11). Who’s got next? Luka Doncic leads 10 deserving first-time NBA all-star candidates. Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/12/11/nba-all-star-game-chicago-debut-candidates-luka-doncic-pascal-siakam/

Luka Doncic. (2019). Basketball Reference. Retrieved from https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/d/doncilu01.html

Luka Doncic is only 20, but he could be the next MVP of the NBA. (2019, December 5). NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2019/12/05/785253971/luka-doncic-is-only-20-but-he-could-be-the-next-mvp-of-the-nba

Manrique, B. (2019, November 25). Can Luka Doncic really become the youngest MVP in NBA history? Clutch Points. Retrieved from https://clutchpoints.com/can-luka-doncic-really-become-the-youngest-mvp-in-nba-history/

Mavericks’ Luka Doncic wins Sports Illustrated’s Breakout of the Year award. (2019, December 4). Sports Illustrated. Retrieved from https://www.si.com/sportsperson/2019/12/04/luka-doncic-dallas-mavericks-sports-illustrated-breakout-award

Owens, J. (2019, December 8). Luka Doncic passes Michael Jordan for modern-day NBA record. Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved from https://sports.yahoo.com/luka-doncic-passes-michael-jordan-for-modernday-nba-record-022245607.html

Prada, M. (2019, December 4). The secret to Luka Doncic’s rapid rise into a leading MVP candidate. SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/nba/2019/12/4/20993740/luka-doncic-dallas-mavericks-mvp-race-stats-highlights

Rader, D. (2019, November 22). Luka Doncic is breaking records and making his case for MVP. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/doylerader/2019/11/22/luka-doncic-mvp-breaking-records-triple-double-dallas-mavericks/#5b74310977e8

10 things to know about Mavs’ Luka Doncic, including his signature moment vs. the Rockets, some amazing shots, and more. (2019, May 31). The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved from https://www.dallasnews.com/sports/mavericks/2019/06/01/10-things-to-know-about-mavs-luka-doncic-including-his-signature-moment-vs-the-rockets-some-amazing-shots-and-more/

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