As Luka Doncic works his way into shape, the Dallas Mavericks’ superstar has started flashing his All-NBA form.
Doncic had by far his most dominant performance of the season in a 113-100 road win Monday night over the Houston Rockets. He had season highs with 33 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists, recording his first triple-double of the season, one that had some historical significance.
Doncic now has three of the five 30-15-10 performances in NBA history by players younger than age 22, according to Elias Sports Bureau research. The others were recorded by a couple of Hall of Famers, Oscar Robertson in 1960 and Magic Johnson in 1981.
There have been only seven 30-15-10 performances since Doncic entered the league in 2018-19, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Denver’s Nikola Jokic each have two in that span. Doncic’s three such performances are second among all players over the past 30 years, behind only Russell Westbrook’s five.
“I can’t say that I’m surprised,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said of Doncic’s spectacular outing. “He’s a great player.”
But Doncic, the Las Vegas oddsmakers’ MVP favorite, did not play up to his lofty standards in the first week and a half of the season, as his conditioning was admittedly a concern.
Carlisle cited the uncertainty of this season’s NBA schedule as a factor in Doncic’s slow start, saying he was one of many players whose offseason routine was disrupted because he originally believed the season would begin in January or February.
“His preparation schedule was thrown off, and he just got behind the curve,” Carlisle said. “It’s pretty clear now that he’s working his way back to where he needs to be. As I mentioned the other night, all of his physical and conditioning indicators are really going in a good, strong direction, which is great. And you can tell on the floor. You can see that he’s just getting better and better as each day goes by.”
Doncic, who missed Sunday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls because of a left quadriceps contusion, has consistently put in extra work in an effort to regain the form that made him a first-team All-NBA selection last season. That included a 40-minute postgame shooting session on the American Airlines Center court after a blowout loss to the Charlotte Hornets in the Mavs’ home opener, in which Doncic was limited to 12 points and said his “legs feel really tired.”
“I’m ready to play,” said Doncic, who outplayed perennial MVP candidate James Harden (21 points, 5-of-17 shooting, 10 assists) on Monday night. “I’m going to keep doing the conditioning, keep doing better, keep getting in better shape. We have a lot of games, so I’ll be in shape.”
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