Luka Doncic is clearly is on his way to a spot in the NBA All-Star Game next month in Chicago.
The Mavericks’ point guard said he could feel the love from the fans after he was the leading vote-getter in the first results of fan balloting for the game, which were released on Thursday.
He was 599 votes ahead of Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP of the league. And that is an incredibly slender margin, considering Doncic earned 1,073,957 votes. The Greek Freak got 1,073,358. The only other player topping a million votes in the first reporting of ballots was LeBron James.
“It was amazing,” Doncic said. “I can’t thank the fans enough, everybody who voted for me. I appreciate everybody. It’s like a dream come true.”
One interesting part of the early voting is that Doncic and Antetokounmpo, two Europeans, are first and second.
Coach Rick Carlisle has seen the globalization of the NBA for more than 30 years, from Hakeem Olajuwon, Drazen Petrovic and Arvydas Sabonis to Dirk Nowitzki and now Doncic and Antetokounmpo.
“It’s amazing the way the league has evolved,” Carlisle said. “Over the years, there have been more and more of these guys that are big in the NBA. We’ll see where the voting goes, but it’s very exciting.”
One of Doncic’s teammates said he’s not overly surprised that the second-year Slovenian is leading the voting. Times like the fourth quarter in the 123-111 win over Brooklyn, when Doncic hit all three of his 3-pointers and had 15 points, show that he’s earned it.
“Not really crazy, because he has the hype around him,” said Maxi Kleber, who is from Germany. “He deserves this.
“But to be first, yes, that’s crazy. But he deserves it. He’s playing out of this world. Just like today. If he doesn’t make those big threes he shot today, we’re in trouble. He makes those big plays every night. And if you make those big plays, you deserve to be No. 1 in the All-Star voting.
“Don’t sleep on the Europeans.”
Reaves gets active: Because of the injuries to Mavericks’ wing players, rookie Josh Reaves was activated for the first time this season.
Reaves signed a two-way contract during the summer, which means he can spend a maximum of 45 days with the Mavericks and the rest of the time he plays with the Texas Legends in Frisco.
Reaves got into the briefly at the end with the game safely tucked away and missed his only shot, a midrange runner.
“It’s a dream come true to finally see the court,” he said. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity and that the coaches put me in.”
The moment Reaves will never forget came on one of the last possessions when Doncic summoned him to take the ball upcourt.
“I never thought a moment would happen when somebody like Luka Doncic telling me to come get the ball,” Reaves said. “That’s a first. But I’m just grateful.”
So far with the Texans, the 6-4 Reaves has averaged 15.3 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.3 steals in 21 games with the Legends, helping them to a 12-9 record.
“He’s a 3-and-D guy,” Carlisle said. “He was a guy we liked in the draft based on college analytics, particularly defensively. This is a great opportunity for him. I don’t know how much he’ll play, but it’s a really good shot for him.”
Reaves said he’s not sure what the game plan will be going forward, but as long as the Mavericks are fighting injuries, he likely will be kept with the big club.
“If I’m with them, I’ll do everything I can to help them win the game,” he said. “I’ll go wherever they need me to go. I’m on the ready.”