This season has started a great way for the Dallas Mavericks, who have considerably improved their level after Luka Doncic’s recent performances. The Slovenian player is already looking like an MVP candidate in his second season in the league, but after Sunday’s game, he also showed another facet of his personality.
When asked about why the Mavs have had so much success early in the season, Doncic jokingly took a shot at former teammate Dirk Nowitzki by saying they no longer have to worry about opponents exploiting the German on the defensive end.
Luka Doncic took a playful jab at a legend when asked about the Mavs’ improved defense this season: “Last year, we had Dirk on defense, so it was tough.” He smiled when he said it. (But a lot of truth is told in jest. Sorry, @swish41.) pic.twitter.com/7sMSPQ2RwO
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) 25 de noviembre de 2019
“Last year, we had Dirk on defense, so it was tough,” Luka said smiling.
Dirk retired at the end of last season, playing at a diminished level. However, there was a time where the German big man was actually a rim protector, averaging at least one block per game in every season between 2000 and 2006.
It’s fair to say that Doncic isn’t a defensive prodigy, but the Mavs have indeed improved their team defense in comparison to last season. Dallas entered Sunday’s game against the Houston Rockets ranked 17th in defensive rating (108.8) after finishing 18th in the NBA (110.7) last year.
Still, you don’t have to look further to see that the catalyst for their early success is the offense, with Doncic playing a key role in that situation. He was averaging nearly a 30-point triple-double entering Sunday’s game against the Houston Rockets; Luka then proceeded to drop 41 points while also notching 10 assists and six rebounds.
Right now Dallas rank first in the NBA in offensive rating, and they rank second in the NBA in turnovers per game (13.1). As a result, Dallas is 11-5 and firmly in contention in the West. Doncic was expected to take the reins of the team once Dirk retired, but the things he’s doing now are even better than anybody would have imagined.