LAS VEGAS – Among the smart moves the Dallas Mavericks made this offseason was to NOT play Luka Doncic in the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League 2018.
It wasn’t until this past Monday that Doncic finally got his buyout from his Real Madrid team and the all-important letter of clearance from FIBA. That gave the rookie from Slovenia the go-ahead to sign his three-year, $18.576 million rookie-scale contract – there is a team option for a fourth year — with the Mavs.
But by the time Doncic put his signature on his contract, the Mavs had already played a pair of summer league games. And the Mavs’ top summer league campers – Dennis Smith Jr., Johnathan Motley and Dorian Finney-Smith – were not scheduled to play in any more games in Las Vegas.
Thus, Doncic would have primarily been on the floor mostly with players who are not going to make the Mavs’ 15-man roster. Plus, he hasn’t had any 5-on-5 practice time with the Mavs just yet, which complicates matters.
Being the No. 3 overall pick in the June 21 NBA Draft, Doncic already has a very large target on his back. Other players on other NBA teams already want of piece of him and already want to prove that they should have been drafted higher than the 6-7, 218-pound combo guard.
And without any 5-on-5 practice time under his belt so he could essentially get to fully know and digest the Mavs’ offense, things may have gotten a bit dicey for Doncic.
Not that Doncic couldn’t have triumphantly pulled it off anyway and had a very successful basketball experience in Las Vegas had he played the final three games that were on the Mavs’ docket after he signed his contract.
This past season Doncic won the coveted Most Valuable Player award in the EuroLeague and also was the MVP of the EuroLeague Final 4 while being the pilot who victoriously guided Real Madrid to the championship at the tender age of 19. So the dude has a serious game, whether the majority of the basketball aficionados in the USA knows it or not.
However, coaches always babble about putting their players in the best possible position to be successful so that player can rightfully have an indelible impact on their squad. In Doncic’s case, if Smith, Motley and Finney-Smith aren’t on the court with him at the summer league stage of his career, then there was absolutely no need to expose Doncic to whatever he would have been confronted with in Vegas.
Especially since there wasn’t sufficient time to have any meaningful 5-on-5 practice sessions.