Dallas Mavericks superstar point guard Luka Doncic has earned a spot on the prestigious Time magazine 2021 Time100 Next list.
It’s a list of 100 emerging leaders and influential people from all type of industries across this earth who are helping shape the world going forward. Then again, it’s no secret that Doncic has been on a fast-track to success.
Doncic doesn’t turn 22 until Feb. 28, and on Thursday he was voted as a starter in the NBA All-Star game for the second straight year. The only other players to start in multiple All-Star games when they were 22 years old or younger are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Isiah Thomas and Rick Barry.
The Time100 Next list consists of scientists and doctors battling the COVID-19, journalists fighting for the truth, advocates pushing for equal justice, and other rising stars who are actors, actresses, singers and politicians and the like. And then there was Doncic.
Mavs center Boban Marjanovic wrote a few words for Time magazine in describing Doncic and his overall dominance, magnetic personality and overwhelming impact on and off the court.
“You can’t relax on the court with Luka Doncic,” Marjanovic wrote. “Even if you’re not open, he can make Luka magic at any moment — throwing a perfect pass that somehow lands in your hands. Every game, he debuts a new move. It’s crazy.
“He’s just 21, but he has already made an all-NBA First Team and is set to earn many more honors. I see his competitive drive off court: even playing Parcheesi, he wants to win. But he always wins while smiling. I see the influence he carries. Before the pandemic, kids would crowd arenas and team hotels, hoping to see him. And he always made time to sign autographs, to share that Luka magic with the world.”
Time magazine listed several categories in coming up with its Time100 list. Doncic was listed in the phenoms category alongside the likes of poet laureate Amanda Gorman – she read a poem at president Joe Biden’s inauguration and at the Super Bowl – and quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who likely will be the top pick in the next NFL draft.
ESPN studio analyst Paul Pierce describes Doncic as a generational player with appeal all across this world.
“He’s a young up-and-coming star and he’s must-see TV,” Pierce said. “The kid is must-watch TV and he’s puts up helluva stats.”
Doncic currently is fifth in the league in scoring (29.1), 18th in rebounding (8.6), third in assists (9.4), and is the co-leader in triple-doubles with seven. In other words, he’s an utter nightmare for opposing coaches to game-plan for.
“We found last year when we bring too much attention to him he’s able to pick you apart with his passing,” Los Angeles Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “If you bring too much (attention) you’re in trouble, and if you leave him isolated too much and don’t bring enough help he’s capable of averaging 29 and capable of putting 40 on you.
“It’s just making sure that you’re finding that balance of slowing him down and keeping other guys in-check.”
Another strategy to slow down Doncic apparently is making sure to lower the temperature on the chatter game whenever playing against the third-year veteran.
“If you think you’re just going to bully and rattle him, it actually kind of builds more of his strength, his confidence, his aggression, his dominance,” Atlanta Hawks coach Lloyd Pierce said. “I think that’s the thing that’s really hard. You see guys get frustrated when they’re being picked on or attacked, and guys talking to him throughout the game.
“If he wants to hang out through most of the game, I’m going to let him hang out. I’m not going to talk to him and wake him up. I think Luka is one of those guys – you wake him up, you’re opening up a lot of things for him. His ability to pass, his ability to pass over the double-team, and obviously his ability to get in the paint.”
To Pierce’s point, when the Los Angeles Clippers tried to rough up and antagonize Doncic in the first-round of last summer’s playoffs, Doncic roughed up the Clippers for 43 points, 17 rebounds and 13 assists, and also drilled a dramatic buzzer-beating 3-pointer which propelled the Mavs to a 135-133 victory in Game 4 of that best-of-seven series. In addition, Doncic collected 38 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in Game 6 of that series.
“For me it’s (Doncic’s) composure,” Pierce said. “I think that was one of the things you heard about.
“He’s played high level basketball since he’s been a teen, so when teams blitz or hedge. . .I think there was a lot of conversation in the Clippers’ series when they were being physical and roughing him up. I think the very next game he dropped (43).”
As the Mavs await their next game — Monday at home against Memphis, unless Friday’s postponed game at Houston is re-scheduled for Sunday — they do so knowing they’re in good hands with Doncic leading the way.
“He’s important for the league — and (it) doesn’t really have anything to do with him coming from Europe,” Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr said of Doncic. “It’s more just what a wonderful basketball player he is.
“He’s kind of one step ahead in the chess match. He’s going to be one of the cornerstones of this league for a long time.”
Apparently, the folks at Time magazine agree.