The Dallas Mavericks could execute the proverbial passing of the torch rather literally, as rookie Luka Doncic is projected to start at power forward this season, according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon, as franchise legend Dirk Nowitzki vacates the position he occupied during the last two decades. Head coach Rick Carlisle said Friday Nowitzki will likely come off the bench, which would set up the ultimate handing of the baton from one great European to another.
Doncic has played at shooting guard and small forward during his three-year stint with Real Madrid, but has found himself playing power forward during some offensive sets with the Slovenian national team.
The adjustment to a full-time power forward will take time, but there is likely no better teacher for a stretch 4 than one of the forefathers of the actual term, as Nowitzki will act as Doncic’s mentor for most of the NBA season, helping him transition from a EuroLeague style to the pace of the NBA game.
The backcourt of Dennis Smith Jr. and veteran sharpshooter Wesley Matthews is expected to return intact, while Harrison Barnes remains at small forward and DeAndre Jordan starts at center after agreeing to a one-year deal with the Mavs.
Carlisle also said Nowitzki isn’t the type to want a farewell tour, instead, the German international will put an emphasis into getting Doncic ready to make an impact and help the Mavs make a jump from the Western Conference cellar to a potential playoff team.