DALLAS – Luka Doncic didn’t bring out any ceremonial brooms as a means of celebration during Thursday’s exit interviews. But no one would have blamed him if he did.
After all, on Thursday the NBA announced that Doncic had won the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the months of March and April. That means the Dallas Mavericks’ point guard made it a clean sweep after winning the noteworthy award for all six months of the season.
The only other player in either conference to ever accomplish that feat was Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns during the 2015-’16 season.
“It’s just been such a great first year for Luka, but he’s certainly not a, quote unquote, finished product,” said Donnie Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations. “Defense is a big piece of it.
“I think just now with Dirk (Nowitzki) truly being gone (via retirement), the leadership void that needs to be filled, he has the ball in his hands a lot, he’s our point forward, point guard quarterback, so there’s a lot of responsibility that comes with that position.”
After his clean sweep of the monthly rookie awards in ’15-’16, Towns won the prestigious NBA Rookie of the Year trophy. Is Doncic expecting that trend to continue and have his name written on this year’s Rookie of the Year trophy.
“We’ll see,” he said. “I’ll tell you when they say who it is.”
The player likely who will give Doncic a competitive race for the Rookie of the Year award is Atlanta Hawks point guard Trae Young.
This season Doncic averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and six assists per game while shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from 3-point range. He also collected 24 double-doubles and eight triple-doubles.
Young, meanwhile, averaged 19.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 8.1 assists and shot 41.8 percent from the floor and 32.4 percent from behind the 3-point line. He also collected 30 double-doubles and one triple-double.
Ironically, Doncic and Young will forever be linked together since their draft rights were traded for one another on the day of last summer’s NBA Draft. The Hawks used the third overall pick to draft Doncic, and the Mavs used the fifth overall pick to draft Young.
Then the two rookie titans’ draft rights were traded for each other, with Doncic showing supreme confidence and playing like he’s been in the NBA for eight or nine years.
“To be honest, we all had pretty high expectations and high hopes,” said Dwight Powell, referring to Doncic’s rapid success. “Maybe the biggest surprise was how quickly he stepped into it.
“But we saw on film the things he could do, and the accolades he came in with were phenomenal, and he hit the ground running, The biggest thing for him is to continue to develop and continue to work, which I know he will, so I’m extremely excited for the years to come for him.”
What Doncic is extremely excited about is being the odds-on favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award. But he was coy when asked about it on Thursday.
“I mean, obviously I want to win it,” he said. “I’m going back to my home (in Slovenia). I’m going to turn off all of my social media. You’re not going to find me.”