ALLEN – The hardest part about waiting for Luka Doncic to officially be named the NBA’s rookie of the year was exactly that.
Just 75 days after the regular season ended, Doncic won the honor during the league’s made-for-TV award show Monday night.
“Finally, it’s official,” Maxi Kleber said Tuesday. “We had to wait a long time. But it’s well-deserved.”
Now, Kleber explained, comes perhaps the more difficult assignment for Doncic, who averaged better than 21 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists per game and easily outdistanced Atlanta’s Trae Young in media voting for the rookie award.
Taking that next step can be very difficult, although Kleber said that Doncic seems well equipped to keep his arrow pointing upward. Kleber said some things will be tougher on the 20-year-old.
“I think expectations will be even bigger now,” Kleber said. “And now, every team knows him better. He will be getting the best defenders on him, all the time. So things will change.
“But he’s so talented and so good and he’s working hard, he should take the next step and I think that’s what we all expect of him.
And Kleber, who is a free agent this offseason, is hoping he gets a season or four to have an up-close view of how Doncic develops.
“It’s very exciting, just like it was with Dirk,” Kleber said. “Those are very rare and special talents. To be on the court with them, work with them, talk with them – it’s big time. And it’s a lot of fun. And it’s the same with KP (Kristaps Porzingis), too.”
Kleber spent Tuesday in Allen making a guest appearance at the Mavs Hoop Camp. He has been to several camps over the last two weeks. But he said he’s still getting the hang of it.
“I’m still very shy and nervous about it,” he said. “But I got to say, the kids are really well-behaved. And they ask good questions.“
Kleber has been spending most of his time in Dallas this offseason. He’s been working out and helping out with the kids’ camps.
He will head to Germany in early August, where he will meet in Munich with several other players on the German national team, such as Daniel Thiess, Dennis Shroder and Paul Zipser. The national team will start training camp soon after and the World Cup begins in late August.
But on Tuesday, Kleber was more interested in Doncic’s big day on Monday. But, again, Kleber is like everybody else. He can’t figure out why it took so long.
“It’s kind of crazy to wait that long,” he said. “Everything is over. Crazy trades have happened already. And then it’s like, oh yeah, by the way, here’s your rookie of the year and MVP.”