BOSTON — Coach Rick Carlisle said he’s “a little bit” surprised rookie forward Luka Doncic is second in the voting to become a frontcourt starter on this year’s Western Conference All-Star team.
“I’m not exactly sure where all the votes are coming from,” Carlisle said. “I’m sure his country is been very busy online. But look, he’s a good player and he’s having a good year.”
Doncic, 19, collected 679,839 votes in the first round of the fan voting process, which was released Thursday. He trailed only Los Angeles Lakers’ forward LeBron James, who is his childhood idol and who had 1,083,363 votes.
Forward Dirk Nowitzki has been impressed what he’s seen from Doncic this season, especially with the way he’s made a seamless transition from playing in Europe to playing in the NBA.
“He felt from day one that he was going to do this and that he belongs here, and he’s been showing that,” Nowitzki said. “He’s got a great all-around package for a young player, whether it’s a shot, whether it’s the floater, whether it’s reading the pick-and-roll.
“He can post up already some of the smaller guys. I’ve got to say I’ve never seen, for a 19 year old, someone as versatile as him.”
When asked if, as the elder statesman on the Mavs’ team at age 40, if he’s taken Doncic under his wings and shown him the ropes.
“It’s been fun to watch, but nobody really takes him under his wing,” Nowitzki said. “He’s a confident young kid, he believes in himself.
“He’s a millennial obviously, and their swag is a little different than when we got in the league.”
Last year Doncic was both the Most Valuable Player of the EuroLeague regular season and the MVP of the EuroLeague Final Four after leading Real Madrid to the championship. From there the Mavs acquired Doncic – he was the third overall pick of last June’s NBA Draft – in a draft day trade with the Atlanta Hawks.
Doncic, who already has amassed 20 games where he’s scored at least 20 points, has taken it from there and been absolutely spectacular with the vast amount of shots in his arsenal.
“He’s been playing with grown men for a long, long time and you can kind of see how he reads the game that he’s been playing professionally for a long, long time,” Nowitzki said. “He just doesn’t make certain mistakes usually a 19-year old would make coming out (of college).
“He’s got an incredible knowledge of the game already for a 19-year old. And his basketball IQ is incredible, so all that stuff obviously helped him make it in the league.”
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