Despite having a great start of his NBA career stats wise, it’s not all that rosy for Luka Doncic in Dallas. His teammates, established NBA players, are not too keen on letting the rookie take all the stardom, apparently.
Or is Doncic simply getting some rookie treatment so he doesn’t get carried away too early? As Mike Fisher of 247sports.com observed, the 19-year-old Slovenian wonder-kid could possibly be facing freeze out, as did Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan in their respective rookie seasons.
For those unaware of the term “freeze out”, it’s a situation when a player is being ignored by his teammates who are not giving him the ball.
Let’s look at some examples and reports from the media that suggest not all is smooth among the Mavericks players.
One episode from the Mavs’ loss against the Knicks is already going viral. In the third quarter Doncic was about to take an uncontested defensive rebound but his teammate DeAndre Jordan pushed the rookie and grabbed the rebound himself.
Was it jealousy or was Jordan simply thinking about his rebounding stats? To the extent that he had no issue with pushing his teammate in the back. Either way, Mark Cuban was not impressed with Jordan’s behaviour as can be seen in the video above (Cuban is on the first row behind the basket).
Doncic was clearly not amused by Jordan’s action and reportedly rolled his eyes while looking at the Mavs’ bench. After the game he played cool and joked that he will have to talk to Jordan why he’s mad at Luka for getting rebounds.
Whether the above episode was one-of-a-kind or it represents the attitude of other Mavericks’ players is debatable. However, there are some interesting facts that makes one wonder.
Doncic is often underused in the first quarters of the games as his teammates are seemingly ignoring him. For example, Luka took only four shots in the entire first half against the Spurs, and was clearly pissed. After one of his shots Doncic mumbled: “Give me the f***ing ball”.
But it might be a result of coach’s decision. As Matt Galatzan of 247sports.com noted, Doncic might be limited by Rick Carlisle on purpose so he doesn’t get too much too soon. In the game against the Knicks Doncic barely touched the ball in the fourth quarter despite making all four of his shots.
As reported by Dalton Trigg of 247sports.com, after the Knicks game, the Mavs’ GM Donnie Nelson met with Wesley Matthews and had a heated conversation with him. The topic of what’s been discussed has not been revealed though.
Both coach Carlisle and J.J. Barea said to the media that there are some things that need to be worked out within the team. Is that what they had in mind?
Meanwhile, Doncic, who was used to constantly playing under pressure for Real Madrid, a team that was expected to win every time, is now facing the reality of the NBA basketball where individual stats are just as important, if not more important, than team’s success.
For his teammates Luka is a 19-year-old kid “from overseas” to whom they have to give not only the limelight but also stats. And for Jordan and Matthews, who will become free agents at the end of the season, the stats will decide their next deals.
It remains to be seen how the story unfolds as the season progresses. Stick with TalkBasket.net for the latest updates.