Southwest Notes: Doncic, Payton, Knight, Walker IV

Mavericks sensation Luka Doncic has drawn comparisons to a young LeBron James early in his rookie season, stuffing the stat sheet and impacting the game on both ends of the floor as the team’s lead player through 33 games.

Doncic, who was drafted by the Mavs with the No. 3 pick in June, has been a prime Rookie of the Year candidate with averages of 19 PPG, 6.7 RPG and 5.1 APG on 43% shooting from the field. The sudden comparisons to a player of James’ caliber have amazed the young star.

“I mean, it’s amazing,” Doncic said of the comparisons, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “You all know that he’s my idol, so it’s just amazing to be there.”

Doncic’s preferred team on draft night was the Mavericks, with agent Bill Duffy making a strong push to land his client in Dallas at the time, according to Sean Deveney of The Sporting News. Doncic has quickly become a household name at just 19 years old, working to become the next face of the Mavericks organization.

“He’s made a name for himself,” Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki said. “Any time you’re known by just your first name after just a few months in the league, that’s a great sign.”

Here are some other notes from the Southwest Division:

  • Pelicans guard Elfrid Payton participated in parts of practice Thursday with a splint on his finger, according to Will Guillory of The Athletic (Twitter link). Guillory also reports the Pelicans are hopeful Payton can return in the next week, with the 24-year-old rehabbing from a broken finger suffered in November.
  • Brandon Knight is still acclimating to his new situation with the Rockets, Hunter Atkins of the Houston Chronicle writes“He’s in a tough spot,” coach Mike D’Antoni said of Knight. “He hasn’t played in a year and a half. This is not an experimental league. We don’t really practice. He needs to play, and we’re not in a position to allow that.” Knight has appeared in six games with the Rockets this season.
  • Spurs rookie Lonnie Walker IV continues to have a positive mindset despite not making his season debut yet. Walker has traveled to the Spurs’ G League team and back several times this season, working to improve after tearing his meniscus in the preseason. “Everyone always has higher hopes,” Walker said, according to Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. “It’s your rookie season. You can’t compare yourself to other people. It’s a horse race. You’ve got to stay in your own lane. Sooner or later, I see that light at the end of the tunnel. Whether it’s now or next year or my third year, it’s only a matter of time until people understand who Lonnie Walker is. So I’m not (in) too much of a rush. Patience is key.”
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8 thoughts on “Southwest Notes: Doncic, Payton, Knight, Walker IV

  1. dimitrios in la

    Trae Young’s stat line doesn’t look bad either—plus Hawks get a top 5 pick in next draft.

    • Young’s stat line is 14ppg on 38% from the field and 25% from 3. Not nearly as gaudy as you would want when Donic is looking like a yet already

    • Sorry to burst this bubble, but the Hawks are not getting a top five pick next year. The pick is top five protected, meaning the Mavs won’t surrender the pick if it lands in the top five. I’d say it will unlikely land in top ten.

      And no, this was a very bad trade for the Hawks. Young will not nearly meet the caliber of Doncic and the extra pick won’t balance this out either. ATL might have hoped that they were fleecing DAL the way BOS fleeced PHI the year prior. This has backfired big time. Not as bad as Philly has suffered but very bad.

  2. That’s for sure Ayton & Doncic are ripping it this year, both are playing some unbelievable game, Trae & JJJ are not doing too bad, Bamba is been a bit disappointing & Bagley has looked good for the little playing time has seen, probably the 3rd best rookie considering the limited opportunity the Kings have given him… so the top 3 in the draft are the top 3 performing rookies this year, not a great surprise but nice to see teams getting their scouting right.

  3. x%sure

    Lonnie Walker, who could use an IV (:D), is winning the metaphor horse race, if not the ROY horse race.
    His ROY placement right now is about where I thought it would be.

    Indeed outside of 5,6 players I knew little about, incl.Doncic, I’ve been steadily right on the 1st rounders. (As for Kevin Knox, I was right about the Knicks and him being goober-y, but it seems his gooberness is preventing him from killing it coming hard off screens like I said he would. I’m not sure what his thing is.)

  4. ‘Practice’, who’s talking about ‘practice’, D’Antoni? Nobody needs to give benchwarmers practice, do they? They can practice by sitting down just about anywhere. Brandon Knight can sit on a toilet for game practice, periodically standing to cheer for his team. That’s what practice is about in Houston.

  5. What the blue heck is goober-y? Knox has started to flash more of his potential this month, and while he is likely not going to factor in to the ROY voting, I could see him ending up around 15 and 6 with a little over league average shooting percentages.

    Not sure what the Hawks were thinking, Doncic is going to be a regular All-Star whereas I look at Young as an inefficient high volume scorer and feast or famine passer. I don’t think the Hawks will totally regret drafting him, I think they’ll regret drafting him instead of taking Doncic though.

    • x%sure

      Urbandictionary has a good rundown on ‘goober’. I’ll go with, simple & slow to adjust to the bigtime, but well-liked & not hopeless.

      Now for “blue heck”…

      The Hawks GM wants a GSW look & style, and Shroder was the opposite of that. Young has Curry style but Doncic, hard to say at the time. Sometimes best-laid plans can be an obstacle!

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