The current Rookie of the Year race easily has Luka Doncic as the favorite. He’s averaging 19 points a game a shooting nearly 40% from the 3 point line for the Mavericks that currently are above .500. I really hope they make the Playoffs and give Dirk Nowitzki the send-off he truly deserves.

Doncic has great range on his jump shot and has shown tremendous footwork and craftiness in his first 19 games. He looks to be the perfect star for the Mavs to build around given this is likely to be Dirk’s last season. Doncic won the Euroleague MVP last season with Real Madrid which is why the Atlanta Hawks drafted him 3rd overall in the 2018 NBA draft so they could trade him to the Dallas Mavericks for Trae Young and a 2019 1st round pick.

Doncic has been lighting it up in Europe for some time now; he was only 13 when he signed for Real Madrid and was only 14 when the Dallas Mavericks started to take a real interest in him. European basketball has been getting better and better as the sport of basketball grows around the world. There is a wealth of talent to be found and NBA teams are becoming more aware of this.

According to Rob Mahoney of Sports Illustrated, Dallas Mavericks become interested in Luka Doncic when he was 14.

At eight Dončić played against 11-year-olds in his native Slovenia. By 13 he had signed with Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid. And at 14 he first caught the interest of the Dallas Mavericks, who were drawn to his game from half a world away

It was hardly an act of discovery. Real Madrid is one of the best clubs in one of the best basketball leagues in the world. “That’s a well-traveled road, in terms of scouting,” says Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson, whose staff was among the first to fully explore the international basketball scene. There was no moment of epiphany for some canny scout in a barren, third-division gym. Dončić played to packed arenas against real professionals starting at 16. By the time he declared for the 2018 draft as a 19-year-old, he had amassed a more substantive body of work against high-level competition than any prospect in his class—and perhaps ever. Whatever mystery there was surrounding the EuroLeague’s teenage MVP, it could be solved with a simple YouTube search.

By the time Doncic was 19, he had played against elite competition for a number of years so there was no question that his stats signaled he was not only ready for the NBA but that he would excel in it. The European influence on the NBA has been hugely significant with the likes of Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way.

Doncic will likely win ROTY and could well be an All-Star next season if he fulfills his potential. We may just be looking at the rise of another European star that rivals the career of Dirk Nowitzki, and it’s only fitting that he plays in Dallas.