Photo By Markus Spiske (More of Marcus’s Work Can be Found at https://unsplash.com/@markusspiske)
August 26th, 2020
By: Mishal Goel
On August 23rd we saw a 21 year old playing his 4th career playoff game shoot a nasty buzzer beater against the NBA Champion favorite LA Clippers. I don’t know where you guys were during the shot, but I know I was outside playing basketball and we paused our game to watch the ending of Game 4. We were all waiting for the timeout to end to see the last 3.9 seconds of the game. Despite being spoiled (thanks Chris F.), we didn’t know how Luka won the game. Inbound → Dribble Moves → Step Back → Shoot → Buzzer Beater 3 → “BANG BANG” – Mike Breen. We definitely went crazy and tried being Luka the rest of our balling session. The ending of this game made me want to learn more about Luka’s history, so let’s look at his basketball career.
As many of you guys probably know, Luka came into stardom while playing for Real Madrid (not the Soccer Team). At 13 years old, in September 2013, Luka signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid. Within his first year, he led his team to a Minicopa Endesa win. The Minicopa Endesa is a youth tournament organized in Spain where the best 8 teams compete to win. To win this, he had to put up 25 points against FC Barcelona, which led him to MVP honors. The next season (2014-2015), Doncic played primarily for the under-18 team and the reserve team.
It wasn’t until April 30, 2015 that Doncic made his debut for Real Madrid, where he played 2 minutes. This led to Doncic becoming a regular baller in the 2015-2016 season. He caught his first taste of the NBA when he played the Boston Celtics in a pre-season game. During the same season, he debuted for the EuroLeague. For those who are unaware, the EuroLeague is an 18 team tournament where each team plays each other 2 times, once home and once away, in a double round robin league regular season. The 8 best teams advance to the playoffs and play a 5 game playoff series. The Final Four plays one game where the winner advances to the finals and the finals is also a one game winner take all. Anyways, back to Luka. During his EuroLeague sophomore season, he was named the MVP of the Round and led Real Madrid to the Final Four. During the 2017-2018 season, Luka was once again named the EuroLeague MVP of the Round twice and EuroLeague MVP of the Month. Over the course of the season, Luka averaged 16 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.3 assists, which led him to a EuroLeague Final Four MVP, EuroLeague MVP, and most importantly the EuroLeague Champion. After almost 5 years, Luka departed Real Madrid to take his talents to the NBA.
Luka kept getting better throughout his international basketball career and was making a name for himself in the 2018 NBA Draft. Luka ended up being the 3rd overall pick to the Atlanta Hawks. The Mavericks drafted Trae Young with a trade being agreed upon. Luka for Trae and a protected future first rounder in 2019. Luka did not play in the Summer League due to a late buyout with Real Madrid. However, that didn’t stop him from slowly lighting up the league. His first season he averaged 21.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, and 6.0 APG. Those are very good stats for a rookie and helped him win Rookie of the Year. Although the Mavericks failed to reach the playoffs with a 33-49 record, they ended with hope for the future as they had a rising Star and traded for the Unicorn – Kristaps Porzingis.
The 2019-2020 season ended with the Mavericks being the 7th seed, but with one of the all-time best offenses. They averaged 117 PPG, which is better than the Warriors or Bulls super teams. A lot of this had to do with Luka’s improved game. He ended the season with the most triple doubles and had an almost triple double stat line (28.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 8.8 APG). Will they be able to overcome the Clippers and advance in the playoffs? As I am writing this, they are losing Game 5, but my gut has them winning in 7.
Even if Luka and the Mavs do not make it far into these playoffs, their future is bright. Luka will eventually be a multiple time league MVP, multiple time NBA champion, and has the potential to be the face of the league or atleast the face of the international basketball community. I have no doubt that if he can stay healthy that he can join the very, very exclusive 30k-10k-10k club. Yeah, a club that no one is a part of yet. But in the meantime, we can all sit back and watch this kid, who is younger than me, light up the league and provide excitement for future NBA seasons.