Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic deserves a day off. Luka’s exhausting week included the following: Drama with a Phoenix Suns fan on Wednesday, a historic 73-point performance on Friday, and a triple-double in a narrow 120-115 loss in the second of a back-to-back against the Sacramento Kings on Saturday. After Saturday’s game, Luka admitted that he “can’t wait to go to sleep.”
“I’m tired. I can’t wait to go to sleep honestly,” Doncic said after playing over 90 minutes between Friday and Saturday’s games.
So why didn’t Doncic just not play Saturday? After all, he was listed as questionable on the injury report before being made available before tip-off. Well, Doncic simply loves to play the game and wants to do everything he can to lead Dallas to victory.
The Mavericks entered the fourth quarter trailing by a considerable margin, yet Doncic remained on the floor. He said he was not part of the discussion about playing in the fourth quarter, but was happy to take the court and help Dallas.
“No, I didn’t have a discussion,” Doncic said. “They are the coaches so if they want me to play, then I will play. No problem.”
The Mavericks ended up out-scoring the Kings 40-26 in the fourth quarter and almost pulled off the come-from-behind victory. They ultimately fell short, but it was an impressive effort.
“I think we fought well. I’m proud of how this team fought,” Doncic stated. “Obviously, we didn’t get the win, but I think we fought really well.”
Doncic, who played more than 46 minutes in the defeat, recorded a 28-point, 17-assist, 10-rebound triple-double. For some reason, he is not receiving as much MVP consideration as one may imagine, but it is clear that Doncic firmly belongs in the conversation.
Luka Doncic’s incredible 2023-24 season with Mavericks
Doncic’s statistics do not even tell the full story, of course, they do help in explaining how dominant of a player he is. He’s averaging almost 35 points per game while recording right around nine rebounds and assists per contest. Doncic has continued to work hard on the defensive end of the floor as well, and the Mavericks would not be where they are without him.
Dallas has dealt with a plethora of injury concerns during the 2023-24 campaign. Nevertheless, they still hold a winning record. Dereck Lively II has emerged as a reliable center, and Tim Hardaway Jr. is making a case for Sixth Man of the Year. Still, the Mavericks have relied heavily on Doncic’s production without question.
Of course, there is more than statistics to consider.
Many players would not have played on Saturday. Doncic had a long week and nobody would have blamed him for taking Saturday off. Although it was “hard” to play, something Luka told reporters after the game, he left everything on the court.
“I mean, it was hard,” Doncic admitted. “It was less than 24 hours and I played like 90 minutes or something. It was a lot. Obviously, I was questionable for tonight, but I wanted to play.”
Doncic’s workload and overall impact on his team is something to consider when it comes to the MVP debate.
Doncic’s heavy workload
Luka Doncic hasn’t had much time to rest in recent action. With Kyrie Irving injured, the Mavericks have needed him on the floor. Mavs head coach Jason Kidd was asked about Doncic’s heavy workload Saturday.
“The game plan is always to try to keep him under 48… We did that tonight,” Kidd said. “With the depth that we have, he’s out there trying to do it by himself. That’s who he is. He loves to take on the world. Again tonight, he helped his team. Unfortunately, he didn’t shoot the ball like he did last night but he still is a problem. He created a lot of open shots for his teammates.
“In that first half, we just didn’t shoot the ball well. There in the last four minutes, we started to get our rhythm, we started to make shots. It becomes a two-possession game, and it could have easily been a one-possession game there if we make that corner 3. To play him 46 minutes, that’s something we talk about during the game. At some point, that game was out of hand almost and those guys didn’t stop playing. They kept fighting and found themselves in the ball game and so his minutes got extended.”
Is Luka Doncic the MVP?
Right now, Doncic probably would not win the MVP. And no, that isn’t anything against him. However, Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic remain atop the MVP rankings. Meanwhile, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jayson Tatum are all earning consideration.
With that being said, what Doncic is doing for this Mavericks team cannot be ignored. He is leading by example and with his words, playing hard on the court, and performing at an elite level. What more could you want in an MVP?
The season is far from over. If Luka Doncic can help the Mavs climb the NBA standings, then perhaps he will climb in the MVP race. One of the NBA’s greatest stars cannot continue to be overlooked outside of Dallas. It’s time Doncic receives the recognition he deserves.