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.”