Dallas Mavericks celebrity Luka Doncic has prompted comparisons to legends such as Larry Bird and Magic Johnson less than two 1/2 seasons in his NBA career.
One of active superstars, Doncic’s game might be similar to that of perennial MVP candidate James Harden, who acknowledged Saturday night that he believes those comparisons valid.
“There are some similarities,” Harden said after the Mavs’ 115-98 street win snapped the Brooklyn Nets’ eight-game winning series. “He never allows anybody accelerate up him, and he gets exactly what he wants. That’s rare for a guy at a young age. I think he’s 21 years old. And also to be able to dictate the game and dominate the game like he does, we all know he has a very, very bright future.
“The Mavs got a particular one.”
Harden’s remarks weren’t necessarily a reaction to Saturday night’s match, where he was the lone All-Star available for the Nets with Kevin Durant (hamstring) and Kyrie Irving (injury maintenance) sidelined.
“Whoever is at the lineup and satisfied up has to be better, which starts with me,” said Harden, who had 29 points and six assists but was held to only four points after halftime.
Doncic had 27 points on 11-of-21 shooting, six rebounds and seven assists in the triumph, an impressive but routine performance for a player who averages 28.5 points, 8.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists per game.
But Doncic was flattered when he discovered about the praise from Harden.
“It is something you can not even describe if somebody like that states something about you,” said Doncic, that has talked about researching Harden, specifically his step-back jumper and ability to draw fouls. “It is simply amazing. I really appreciate it. I see him. He’s an incredible player and just really unique.”
This was Dallas’ seventh win in the past nine games as the 16-16 Mavs climbed back to .500.
One major factor in the Mavs’ resurgence has been many players recovering from COVID-19 and regaining his or her rhythm.
The other major improvement during Dallas’ turnaround was possibly the best stretch of Doncic’s magnificent young NBA career.
Doncic, who turns 22 on Sunday, has averaged 31.6 points over the previous nine matches, shooting 51.6percent in the floor and 46.1% from 3-point range. He has had the 3 highest-scoring regular-season performances of his profession — 46, 44 and 42 points — throughout the span and also averaged 7.3 rebounds and 7.9 assists, carrying the Mavs much like Harden did the Houston Rockets for eight years prior to being traded to Brooklyn this season.
“Harden has been in a situation the past couple of years in which the crime has really revolved around him,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “With our team, it will around Luka similarly, but our personality is a little different than Houston and Brooklyn. Both these men are generational-type players. There’s no question about it.”