BOSTON – On the same day Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic was named the Western Conference Player of the Month, he also would be a starter in next month’s prestigious NBA All-Star game if the voting ended today.
In the first round of voting by the fans that was released Thursday, Doncic would be in the Western Conference All-Star game starting lineup with LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Derick Rose if the entire voting process ended today. Fan voting remains open through Jan. 21 and count 50 percent towards the selection, while voting by the players and media will split the remaining 50 percent.
The All-Star ballot listed players by just two positions — the frontcourt, where Doncic is listed, and the backcourt. James leads the West frontcourt participants with 1,083,363 votes, while Doncic is second with 679,839 votes and Durant is third with 659,968 votes.
Curry leads the backcourt with 793,111 votes and Rose is second with 698,086 votes.
The All-Star game will be held Feb. 17 in Charlotte.
Doncic’s star is rising so fast that forward Dirk Nowitzki acknowledged that he wouldn’t be surprised if the rookie from Slovenia makes the All-Star team.
“He’s a major part of why we’re almost .500 in the West, but it’s going to be tough,” said Nowitzki, who has made 13 All-Star team. “We already know there are some amazing, amazing players in the West – it’s going to be tough for him to get in.
“But he has a case. He’s been playing well, he’s been running the show, he’s been really clutch for us in big games, so he deserves a shot or at least to be mentioned.”
Curry, the perennial All-Star for the Golden State Warriors, has walked away thoroughly impressed with Doncic’s skill set.
“He’s very talented,” Curry said. “He’s a smart high IQ guy and has a lot of confidence and swag to his game.
“He’s got some patented moves that he’s shown, but he’s a guy that just knows what he’s doing out there.”
Back on Dec. 22, Doncic poured in 19 points against the two-time defending NBA champion Warriors. Afterwards, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said: “I think he made three step-back threes in the first half. Those are tough to defend.
“He’s a great player, really fun to watch and a bright, bright future.”
As far as his latest Western Conference Rookie of the Month award is concerned — which Doncic also won on Thursday — Doncic joins Jay Vincent (1981-’82 season) as the only Mavs rookie to capture this honor on multiple occasions. But the third pick in last June’s NBA Draft is the only Mavs rookie to accomplish this feat during the first two months of the season.
In 15 games in December, Doncic scored 20 or more points 10 times, including 32 or more points on two occasions. He also averaged 21.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 6.1 assists and picked up four double-doubles in December.
In using his talents to plead his case for a spot on the All-Star team, Doncic also was the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for the month of November. That means he has a giant leg up on the competition as far as winning the NBA’s coveted Rookie of the Year at season’s end.
Also, even before Doncic took just 16 shots to score a season-high 34 points against his team on Dec. 28, New Orleans Pelicans coach Alvin Gentry was already singing his praises. Doncic, 19, made 7-of-10 3-pointers in that game, thus becoming the first teenager in NBA history to sink seven 3-pointers in a game.
“I don’t care if he’s 14, he’s a really, really good player,” Gentry said. “He’s a smart player, and to be honest with you he’s played against pros since he was 15 years old, so it’s not like this is something new for him.
“He’s played against men his whole life. For him to come over here, there’s no intimidation. And he feels like he’s really good.”
Gentry likes the confidence Doncic brings to the court. That, within itself, is a form of intimidation.
“I think he’s confident, but he’s not cocky,” Gentry said. “You can see the chemistry in everything that happens when you watch him play. He’s a guy that really, really enjoys playing.”
Curry noticed that, also, in his assessment of Doncic.
“Obviously he’s a rookie, but he’s found a way to impose his will most nights,” Curry said. “It’s going to be good to see him develop in this league and be a star.”
And whether that development as a “star” will include Doncic being a participant in next month’s All-Star game, only time will tell.