As part of the tradition here at The Wrightway Sports Network, we will resume our NBA Player of the Week. The purpose of this column is to highlight different NBA players that have either exceeded expectations, or have had a huge impact on the team’s success through the course of the past week.
Far too often, the NBA media is fixated on only two or three players to the point where we barely take a moment to acknowledge the other major stars in the league. At The Wrightway Sports Network, we are always looking to innovate and will instead focus on the multitude of stars that impact this league and with this in mind, the perfect player to start the column for this new year has to be Luka Doncic.
Going into the season, the NBA media including myself were unsure about the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic. Coming off a successful rookie campaign, it was unsure whether or not Luka would take a step back now that defenses had film on his game.
The Mavs had placed Kristaps Porzingas in the line-up, and it was unclear how his overall success would be considering his previous injury, and the unknown dynamic of him and Luka on the floor.
Luka, however, has silenced all of his doubters and has demonstrated that the Dallas Mavericks are going to be legitimate playoff contenders, and that he is going to be a generational superstar in this league. Consider this past week as the potential of Luka against any team.
His first game of the week was against the San Antonio Spurs. In this game, not only was he the second youngest player to have a 40-point triple double (the youngest being LeBron James), but he also absolutely destroyed the Spurs shooting from everywhere and making sure that his teammates were involved all over the court.
This was an impressive performance considering the Spurs are a well-coached team behind Gregg Popovich with legitimate players. The crazy part about this game is that Luka wasn’t getting much help from his supporting cast. Kristaps played okay scoring a pedestrian 18 points on 42% shooting from the field and Tim Hardaway Jr. scored only 4 points in this game.
Against the Spurs, Luka showed his skill by single-handedly leading his team to a win despite the multiple double teams and the multiple defensive schemes focused on stopping him from making plays for his team.
The next two games were against very weak teams in the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers. However, the impressive aspect to note is that during this stretch, not only was he averaging 35 points, 12 assists, and 10 rebounds, but he was doing all this with extreme efficiency by shooting 57% from the field and 48% from the three-point line.
Luka was killing these teams all by himself. In the first quarter of the Warriors game, Luka had more points, rebounds and assists than the entire Warriors team. While these teams again are not elite, it is still incredibly impressive what he was able to do during these games.
Despite these ridiculous performances, it was only until the last game he played this week that cemented his position as the NBA player of the week.
On Sunday, he played against James Harden and the Houston Rockets. This game would be the first time these two met this season and would decide who is the best team in Texas. Now consider the rockets have a myriad of great players like Russell Westbrook, Clint Capela, and Eric Gordon just to name a few.
However, in this game Luka was simply unstoppable. He scored 41 points on 50% shooting and dished out 10 assists. The Houston Rockets are a legitimate playoff team, and the Mavericks essentially blew them out. In the closing minutes of the game, Luka again took over by scoring 13 points swelling the lead to over 20 points with less than two minutes remaining.
This essentially caused both teams to empty the bench as the clock ran out on a huge Maverick victory. Anyone can pad their stats, but the ability to lead a team to quality wins is what differentiates the good players in the game from the great players, and if this play continues, Luka has a legitimate case for MVP this year.