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Luka Doncic, Mavs

Mavericks’ Luka Doncic looking like a legitimate early-season MVP candidate

It’s just two games but Luka Doncic is already looking like a legitimate MVP candidate. It’s obviously still too early in the season to make these kinds of claims, but Doncic has looked every bit the part of the league’s top regular season plum.

The Dallas Mavericks are 2-0 to begin the 2019-20 season and much of that has to do with their 20-year old superstar from Slovenia. Doncic has been nothing short of spectacular through his first two games of the new season.

It’s been Luka Magic so far as the former EuroLeague MVP has looked really comfortable and a lot more confident in running the offense for Dallas in his sophomore season — as if he didn’t already in his rookie campaign. The preseason work seems to have paid off as Doncic has showcased a more polished offensive game and has made it look easy.

Through two games, Doncic is averaging 29.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 6.5 assists, and 2.0 steals in 35.5 minutes per contest. He’s also shooting at an efficient 57.9 percent clip from the field, 38.9 percent from three, and 80.0 percent from the charity stripe.

Doncic took off right where he left off last season with a massive performance in his season opener. The 2019 Rookie of the Year frustrated the Washington Wizards with 34 points on 12-of-19 shooting, including four makes from the outside.

He displayed the entire repertoire of his offensive arsenal. He slithered his way to the rim with drives, made tough floaters in the lane, and nailed a couple of his signature step-back threes.

In their most recent outing against the New Orleans Pelicans, Doncic notched the ninth triple-double of his young career with 25 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. He controlled Dallas’ offense down the stretch in the fourth quarter and made timely buckets — including a “lucky” one as he admitted — to seal the win for the Mavericks.

Obviously, the sample size is still very low, but what jumps out from Doncic’s early season returns are the high minutes and the efficiency from the field. These are two areas in which Doncic struggled with in his debut season. Can he actually keep this up for the entirety of the regular season?

Obviously, he’s not going to be this efficient for the entire year. But somewhere between 46 to 48 percent from the field is a realistic target for the Slovenian Sensation.

Likewise, Doncic’s leaner frame seems like it is already paying its dividends. He has looked much more spry on offense and is getting to the basket more often. He also appears quicker on his feet defensively. Sure, he still has ways to go to be an elite individual defender, but this is, at least, an encouraging development.

Realistically speaking, Doncic is just a dark-horse candidate for MVP this year. The Mavericks will have to make at least the top three or four in the daunted Western Conference for this to happen, which is going to be very tough for a young team like Dallas.

Nevertheless, Luka may not win MVP this year, but this season should plant the seeds of eventual MVP runs in the future for the Slovenian Sensation.