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Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki admits he thought Luka Doncic would struggle in Year 2

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Luka Doncic has taken an unprecedented leap into superstardom in his second year in the league, going from reigning Rookie of the Year winner to potential MVP contender. Even Dallas Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki, who played with Doncic last season, can attest to how much of a surprise it is to see him thrive this much in his second season.

“I got to be honest, I thought he would have a tougher transition here in year two,” said Nowitzki, who received a video tribute at Staples Center on Sunday, according to Mark Medina of USA TODAY Sports. “Just because he was so phenomenal last year with all the triple-doubles, I thought people were really going to hone in on him. But he seemed to have gotten even better.”

“I guess I was wrong,” Nowitzki said, chuckling. “Even the experts can be wrong. He’s looking fantastic.”

First-year players are expected to hit a rookie wall at some point in the season, much like second-year players are expected to struggle as the NBA figures out their tendencies and adapts to their game. While the latter was true for players like Donovan Mitchell and Jayson Tatum in 2018-19, it hasn’t manifested in Doncic or fellow draftmate Trae Young — both off to rousing starts in this campaign.

Doncic put yet the biggest feather in his cap by stopping the Los Angeles Lakers’ 10-game win streak and going up against his idol LeBron James, putting up 27 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists in a 114-110 win over the top seed in the West.

Doncic continues to impress with his play, and he is even managing to surprise his former teammate Nowitzki, who by now knows he’s left the franchise in great hands.