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Gregg Popovich says calm demeanor, courage make Luka Doncic special

Before the Dallas Mavericks and the San Antonio Spurs faced off Wednesday evening, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich was asked what stands out to him about the rookie sensation Luka Doncic.

Popovich told Mark Followill of Fox Sports Dallas:

“I think his demeanor. He has a pace about him that is never frantic. He’s calm in everything that he does. He understands spatial relationships and understands where everybody is on the court, what’s needed at the time and he’s got courage. He’ll take big shots and do what needs to be done to try to win a basketball game. And he obviously attracts the respect of his teammates. That’s pretty tough for a rookie to do as quickly as he did. All of that makes him one hell of a basketball player and person.”

This high praise from Popovich, who has very high standards for his players. For him to be impressed by the rookie is quite remarkable.

Doncic is one of the best rookies in the past decade. He came into the league so polished because of his time spent in the EuroLeague as a teenager. Doncic is wonderful in the pick-and-roll and can get to the basket with ease. He hits fadeaway, step-back threes with style and high efficiency. And his play-making ability is that of a point guard who has played many years in the NBA.

The 19-year-old is averaging 20.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game while shooting 43.5 percent from the field and 37.3 percent from beyond the arc. Even though his shooting percentages could be higher, it’s not uncommon for rookies. The shooting should fix itself with more reps and experience.

The Mavericks are 20-23 on the season and currently the 13th-best team in the NBA’s Western Conference.