Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki Praises Rookie Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic with Real Madrid during Euroleague basketball match in 2018
Luka Doncic with Real Madrid during Euroleague basketball match in 2018. Photo by Nikola Krstic/REX/Shutterstock (9485782g)

Since entering the NBA 20 years ago, Dallas Mavericks’ Dirk Nowitzki established himself as the best international player in the history of the league, and one of the power forwards ever. Now, according to the 40-year-old, Mavericks’ newest international acquisition, Luka Doncic could follow the similar path.

During an interview with Dallas radio’s 105.3 The Fan, Nowitzki said that Doncic, who was the third overall pick in 2018 draft, is a lot better than he was in his rookie year.

I could shoot a little bit [at 19], but I never had the court vision, the savviness and the stuff that he brings to the game,” – said Nowitzki of Doncic. “Just the way he already reads pick-and-rolls. You go under, he shoots. If the man goes over, he kind of keeps him behind him like the best, like Chris Paul and these guys do. He does all of that. He’s going to be fun — fun to watch.

Luka Doncic enters the NBA as one of the most highly touted international prospects in the past 20 years. Although only 19 years old, Doncic already proved he could play against grown men, becoming the youngest recipient of the EuroLeague MVP and EuroLeague Final Four MVP awards while leading his former club Real Madrid to 2018 EuroLeague title. He also helped his native Slovenia to win the 2017 EuroBasket.

Knowing all this, it is only natural to expect great things from Luka Doncic as soon as he puts on that Dallas Mavericks’ jersey. But transitioning from Europe to NBA isn’t an easy process, and Dirk Nowitzki knows that best. This is why he wants to avoid putting too much pressure on the young Slovenian.

Obviously, I don’t want to put too much pressure on him,” – Nowitzki added. “Coming over from a different country, I went through the same thing about 20 years ago. It’s tough to adjust to a lot of things: living in a different country, another culture, to a different game, different coaching, different play style. For me, that took a full year. My first year was really, really tough.

So, if Doncic doesn’t immediately become Mavericks’ best player, don’t worry. Give him a year or two, and he will get there.

Gunner's favorite movies are Pulp Fiction, Iron Man (just the first one), and every James Bond film ever made. He's learning TV and cinema and hoping to always enjoy movies as he does now.