Mavs’ Luka Doncic gets unexpected NBA player comparison from Mike Budenholzer
The all-around game of Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic has earned him comparisons with all-time greats Michael Jordan and LeBron James. These players operate with the ball on their hands a lot, similar to how Doncic runs the point for the Mavs.
But as far as Milwaukee Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer is concerned, the 21-year-old Slovenian also has some Tim Duncan in his game.
Coach Bud made the surprising comparison after seeing Doncic up close in Milwaukee’s 136-132 overtime loss to the Mavs on Saturday. Luka punished the Bucks with a tripe-double of 36 points, 14 rebounds and 19 assists.
“As a guard with the ball in his hands as much as it is, there’s nobody that jumps to my mind,” Budenholzer said about the Mavs star when asked which player reminds him of Doncic the most, per ESPN’s Tim Bontemps:
“I mean, Tim Duncan as a second-year player was pretty amazing. Tim Duncan as a first-year player, but they’re built very differently. So there’s been some great players come into our league and done special things in their first year or two, but with the ball in his hands, the way it is, to do the things he does is very impressive.”
In hindsight, it’s quite hard to see coach Budenholzer’s perspective given the vast difference in Duncan and Doncic’s playing styles.
For starters, the legendary San Antonio Spurs slotman mostly operated on the block in 19 seasons in the NBA, while Doncic sets the table for the Mavs’ offense each night.
Like Luka, TD also had a fantastic sophomore season, but it still fails to pale in comparison to the phenomenal year Doncic is having this 2019-20.
The Big Fundamental averaged 21.7 points, 11.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.4 blocks for the Spurs in the 1998-99 season. Doncic, on the other hand, has been putting up MVP-worthy tallies of 29.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 8.9 dimes and 1.0 steal for the Mavs so far.
While Budenholzer’s choice is definitely unconventional, he knows what he’s talking about after being around Duncan for years. The two-time NBA Coach of The Year served as a longtime deputy for Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich before becoming one of the most revered tacticians in the game today.
Luka Doncic and Tim Duncan may have played different positions, but they do share one undeniable similarity. They both assumed the role of top dog for their respective teams at such a young age and commanded respect as soon as they entered the league.