NEW YORK – By the time the NBA All-Star weekend is over, Dallas Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic could be a very busy man.
On Tuesday, the NBA announced that Doncic has been chosen to play for the World Team in next month’s MTN DEW ICE Rising Stars game. Also, Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki has been selected to serve as the honorary coach for the international squad, of which Doncic is a member of.
The game, which pits the World Team against a team of players from the U. S. Team, will be held in Charlotte on Feb. 15 at 8 p.m., and will be televised on TNT.
Doncic has literally taken the NBA by storm after being the No. 3 overall pick in last June’s NBA Draft. The 6-7, 218-pounder leads the Mavs in scoring (20.5), and is second on the team in rebounds (6.9), assists (5.4) and steals (1.15).
After the big splash Docic made earlier this season, teams went out of their way to start seriously game-planning for him. But that didn’t slow him down either, as the Toronto Raptors discovered this past Sunday when Doncic collected 35 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists while joining Elgon Baylor, Jerry West, Michael Jordan, Jason Kidd, Stephen Curry and Oscar Robertson as the only rookies to register a triple-double that involved that player scoring at least 35 points.
“One thing I didn’t talk about pre-game that impressed me, I can’t believe his handles,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “He’s up there getting heat and he’s just ‘vroom, vroom, vroom’, really hard dribbles back and forth and getting space even when our guys were kind of attacking him, and he would never get back on his heels.
“We couldn’t get him out of rhythm because he was low and strong and crossing over. Then, with a burst he was into the paint. What incredible touch.”
Nurse said the Raptors tried everything they could to contain Doncic. But to no avail.
“Some of those floaters he shot were almost free throw line or a step inside, and it seemed like he made every single one of them,” Nurse said. “And when we did get enough help there, he’d hang in the air until the last second and throw that incredible two-handed pass out to the right corner. He’s something else.”
Meanwhile, there’s a chance Doncic will also be selected to participate in the Skills Challenge during All-Star Saturday on Feb. 16. And he’ll find out on Thursday if he’ll be voted in as one of the seven Western Conference reserves chosen to play in the All-Star game, which will be held on Feb. 17.
Just 19 years old, Doncic has six games with 30 or more points this season, 27 games with 20 or more points, and nine double-doubles. He also has two triple-doubles, and has averaged 33.5 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in the two games since it was announced that he will not be one of the five players voted to start for the Western Conference in the All-Star game.
Last year while playing in the Euro League, Doncic was the Most Valuable Player during the regular season and the MVP of the Final Four while leading Real Madrid to the championship. Still, despite his experience as a pro player in the second-best league in the world, no one expected Doncic to come into the NBA and dominate things right away.
However, his progression has been off the charts and surprised even the most ardent NBA fan.
“He came from a situation that may be a little bit unique for a rookie, as far as being a highly-touted professional player at an extremely high level,” center Dwight Powell said. “So we had some high hopes and expectations from him coming in.
“And in the summer and in the early parts of training camp we saw what we expected, and as the season progressed, I think we were impressed in his ability to maintain that high level of competition and production over the course of the first 50 games, because a lot of rookies hit that wall.”
For Donic, if there was a wall, he certainly has blasted right through it. That’s why he’ll be on one of the biggest stages when the Rising Stars game will be held on Feb. 15.