The 2018 NBA Draft was full of promising young talent. With names like Deandre Ayton, Marvin Bagley III, Collin Sexton and Trae Young. Anyone of these players have the potential to win Rookie of the Year this season.
However, the Rookie of the Year award for the 2018-19 NBA season belongs to one man and one man alone Luka Dončić.
For those who do not know him, Luka is a 6’7 swingman hailing from Slovenia. Luka was drafted 3rd overall in this years draft by the Atlanta Hawks. He had his drafts rights traded to the Dallas Mavericks on draft night with Luka heading to Big D, and point guard Trae Young going to the ATL to join the Hawks
Luka has been playing professional basketball since he was 15 years old for Real Madrid in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeauge.
Luka was a certified star in Europe. In his last season with Real Madrid prior to getting drafted, Luka won the EuroLeague Rising Star Award, EuroLeague regular season MVP, EuroLeague Final Four MVP and the EuroLeague Championship.
Luka did this while averaging 16 points, 4.3 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game during the regular season while shooting an amazing 57.2% from the field.
Despite his accolades and amazing play with Real Madrid, Luka still managed to have many doubters leading into draft night.
Like many foreign players before him many wondered if Luka could truly survive in the NBA.
“What position will he play?” “How is his passing?” “Can he lead a team?” “We know he can shoot, but can he play in the post?” “Can he create his own shot?”.
These were all questions that scouts, analysts and fans alike had about Luka prior to him being drafted. Less than 30 games into his first NBA season, Luka has answered all of those questions. Just ask the Houston Rockets.
Last week on Dec. 8th, Luka took charge in a 107-104 win at home against the Rockets. Luka scored 11 straight points in the fourth quarter including a step back three to put the Mavs ahead with less than a minute to go in regulation.
He finished the game with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals.
During his rookie campaign with the Mavs, Luka is averaging 17. 8 points, 4.5 assists, 6.8 rebounds all while shooting 42.8 % from the field.
Luka is currently leading the Mavs in scoring and is also the teams second leading assist man and rebounder. The Mavs are sixth in the Western Conference with a record of 15-12.
The Mavs have a very promising future ahead of them. With Luka in tow and last years ninth overall pick point guard Dennis Smith Jr., the Mavs could have one the most exciting young backcourts in the NBA.
The future is bright for not only Luka, but the Mavs as well. The NBA season is far from over. Unless something drastic happens in the next few months expect the Rookie of the Year trophy to find a new home in Slovenia.
*Stats courtesy of NBA.com and Euroleague.com*