The NBA pre-season hasn’t even started yet, and the future Hall of Famer Dirk Nowitzki is already impressed by the Dallas Mavericks’ rookie Luka Doncic.
Nowitzki held nothing back when asked about the talent of this year’s third-overall pick during an interview on Dallas sports talk radio station 105.3 The Fan, pointing out that Doncic’s court vision is “unbelievable” for a 6-foot-7 man.
“I’m really liking what I’m seeing,” said Dirk Nowitzki. “He’s incredible with the ball for a big guy. He’s unbelievable in pick-and-roll play. His court vision is already unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I saw from a 19, 20-year-old. He’s a good shooter when he has time and I think he’s going to be great for us for a long, long time. […]
“He’s an incredible talent. His court vision and passing for his size, at his age, is something I’ve never seen in my 20 years.”
The Slovenian player averaged 14.5 points and 4.7 assists in 59 games last year with Real Madrid, one of the best teams in the European basketball league, where he won the Euroleague championship.
When the Mavericks legend was asked if Doncic is better than what he was when he entered the NBA at 19 years old, Dirk didn’t even hesitate, praising that the former Real Madrid player is a more integral player than what he was 20 years ago. Moreover, he believes that the rookie will have great chemistry with the new Dallas center DeAndre Jordan.
“Oh yeah. I could shoot a little bit, but I never had the court vision … the savviness that he brings to the game. Just the way he already reads the pick-and-roll … all the stuff like Chris Paul and these guys do … He’s going to be fun to watch, especially with bigs like DeAndre [Jordan] and Dwight [Powell] rolling to the rim … He’s going to pick defenses apart and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Comparing the rookie’s court vision with the one of Chris Paul might be a little too much, but Doncic played at the highest European basketball level since he was 16, so, surely, he has developed some skills that newbies take two or three years to learn in general.
However, the biggest concern with the promising rookie is if he will be able to adapt his game to the NBA, a challenge that has ruined a lot of European players careers. Something that the 2007 MVP passed through.
"Coming over from a different country,” Nowitzki said, “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."