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#pounditThursday, February 25, 2021

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic admits Damian Lillard may have deserved All-Star starter spot

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic controversially received the nod as a starter for the All-Star game over Damian Lillard, and the Dallas Mavericks guard recognizes that he may have gotten away with one.

Doncic talked on Saturday about the results of the All-Star voting. He admitted he didn’t expect he would be voted a starter and acknowledged that Lillard may have deserved the honor.

You really can’t go wrong with either player, as they’re both great and very deserving of recognition.

Lillard is averaging: 29.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.1 steals per game and shooting 45.1/38.4/93.3 percent
Doncic is averaging: 29.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 9.4 assists, 1.0 steals per game and shooting 47.5/33.5/79.5 percent

Their numbers are very comparable, although Lillard’s Blazers are 18-10, while Doncic’s Mavericks entered Saturday 13-15.

What’s interesting is that both the players and media favored Lillard over Doncic for the spot by a similar percentage. The fans however favored Doncic much more.

Since the All-Star Game is primarily a fan spectacle, it makes sense to give the people who they want to see as the starter when there is a close case such as this one. Don’t worry too much about Lillard though, as he had a good reaction to losing the nod.

Mark Cuban curses out ESPN writer over Luka Doncic criticism

Mark Cuban

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is going right for the jugular in response to Zach Lowe’s recent criticism of his franchise’s star player.

In a podcast this week, the ESPN writer Lowe went after Mavs star Luka Doncic, calling him “one of the biggest whiners in the NBA.” Lowe noted Doncic’s tendency to complain to referees when he does not get a foul call.

Cuban fired right back at Lowe in an appearance Thursday on VICE TV.

“F– you Zach Lowe,” said Cuban. “You don’t know s—. I know Luka, right? He’s not a big whiner. He’s passionate. He cares. He wants to win.

“He’s got some s— to him where, yeah he’s one of those European players where you see him [gesturing with his hands] all the time and talking in one of five different languages,” Cuban added about Doncic. “But no, he’s not a whiner. He’s a baller.”

The Mavs are floundering right now at 9-14 overall (14th in the West), so the scrutiny of them has been amplified some. But there are several reasons other than Doncic’s perceived whining (such as a recent outbreak of COVID cases and the integration of new pieces such as Josh Richardson and James Johnson) why the team is struggling.

Cuban is also very protective of the 21-year-old Doncic, so it was obvious he would not appreciate Lowe’s harsh words about the budding superstar.

Paul Pierce gets roasted for comment about Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Paul Pierce is getting ratio’d for one of his takes yet again.

Speaking this week on ESPN’s “The Jump,” the retired Boston Celtics great commented on Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic, saying he saw a lot of his own game in Doncic. While Pierce admitted that Doncic is a better passer than he was, Pierce maintained that their scoring abilities were similar.

Pierce soon got roasted to a crisp for the comparison by the good folks on Twitter. Here were some of the best reactions:

Pierce may have a bit of a point in that he relied more so on craftiness and stepbacks rather than athleticism to get his points, much like Doncic does. But at just 21 years old, Doncic is already putting up better numbers than what Pierce did at his peak. Pierce’s best career season (at age 28 in 2005-06) saw him average 26.8 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game. Meanwhile, Doncic is averaging 27.6 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 8.0 assists per game this season. That is actually LESS than what he averaged last season. Doncic also finished fourth in MVP voting last season on top of making First Team All-NBA, neither of which Pierce ever accomplished.

Granted, Doncic still has to catch up to the playoff success of Pierce, an NBA champion and Finals MVP. But Pierce’s take on Doncic is probably as bad as the last time he tried to come at a current young phenom.

Luka Doncic has funny reaction to concerns about his weight

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic does not particularly seem to mind all the “Donthicc” memes.

The Internet took notice of the Dallas Mavericks star looking a little hefty during the start of preseason play over the weekend.

When asked about the social media reaction to his weight on Monday, Doncic laughed it off.

“What can I say? I’ve never been a muscular guy,” said Doncic, per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News.

“I mean, people on Twitter say every [kind of] stuff,” the 21-year-old added. “But, it’s true I’m not in my best shape. I will get there for sure. But, you know, I’ve never been a muscular guy, so what can I say?”

Doncic, who is listed at 230 pounds, put up gaudy numbers last year of 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game. He relies more on craftiness than on explosiveness, so he can afford to take more time to get into shape.

That said, Doncic’s weight has been a concern in the past, so it will be a storyline to watch with the regular season tipping off in just one week.

Report: Mavericks willing to trade anyone except Doncic, Porzingis

Luka Doncic

The Dallas Mavericks are looking to make a major move to turn their team into a true title contender, according to a report.

The Dallas Morning News’ Brad Townsend reported in an article published Tuesday that the Mavericks are willing to trade anyone on their roster not named Luka Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis. The team is seeking a third start to pair to their core European duo. They would be willing to take on salary as well.

The Mavericks’ willingness to take on salary makes this a good time for them to bolster their team.

Several teams may be struggling financially due to revenue issues because of a lack of fans following March’s coronavirus-related shutdown. Some may be willing to shed salary as a result.

The Mavericks went 43-32 in the regular season and lost to the Clippers in six games in the first round of the playoffs. The Clippers are still a tough team in the West, as are the defending champion Lakers. But LeBron James will be a year older, and the Lakers won’t have much time off before next season begins. Dallas may feel that they have an opportunity to seize and want to try taking advantage.

In addition to Porzingis and Doncic, the Mavericks have Dwight Powell, Seth Curry and Maxi Kleber signed to multi-year deals.

Luka Doncic sees surge in jersey sales since NBA restart

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic’s outstanding performance in the NBA bubble appears to have been very good for his brand.

The NBA released numbers on jersey sales by team and player since the league’s restart. As usual, LeBron James led the field. However, Doncic surged to second in jersey sales, ahead of stars such as Anthony Davis and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The 21-year-old was dominant during the Dallas Mavericks’ first round series against the Los Angeles Clippers. He averaged 31 points, 9.8 rebounds, 8.7 assists, and 1.2 steals per game in the six game series. He did it despite being hobbled for part of the series with an ankle injury.

Doncic delivered one of the signature moments of the playoffs during that series. He probably has more of them in his future, too. It’s clear the NBA world is taking notice.

Marcus Morris fined $35K for foul on Luka Doncic that led to ejection

Marcus Morris Luka Doncic

Marcus Morris was ejected from Game 6 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Dallas Mavericks on Sunday for a hard foul on Luka Doncic, and the play has also resulted in a fine.

The NBA announced on Wednesday that Morris has been fined $35,000 for “recklessly striking” Doncic. The league took into consideration that Morris has been disciplined for on-court altercations in the past.

Morris was given a Flagrant 2 foul for hitting Doncic above the shoulders on a play near the basket. It’s possible he would not have been ejected if not for an incident earlier in the series in which he stepped on Doncic’s ankle.

Doncic said after Game 6 that he believed Morris was intentionally trying to injure him, especially after what happened in Game 5. Morris responded by mocking Doncic on social media.

Marcus Morris mocks Luka Doncic for complaining about hard foul

Marcus Morris Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic feels he was targeted by Marcus Morris during the first-round playoff series between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers. This probably won’t surprise you, but Morris doesn’t seem to care.

Morris was ejected from Game 6 on Sunday for a hard foul on Doncic. That was the second incident between the two players in the series, as Morris also stepped on Doncic’s ankle during Game 5. After the Clippers eliminated the Mavs, Doncic said he believed Morris was intentionally trying to injure him.

Morris responded to Doncic on Instagram by telling the Mavericks star to “cry me a river.”

Morris told reporters after the game that it was a hard-fought series. He also indicated that he believed the officials viewed his foul on Doncic differently from some of the other hard fouls.

The officials probably did treat Morris’ foul differently given the incident in the previous game. You can see the play here to judge whether you think it was intentional, but it certainly lost Morris the benefit of the doubt.

Luka Doncic suggests Marcus Morris targeted him with flagrant foul

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic is not giving Marcus Morris the benefit of the doubt anymore after their latest confrontation.

Morris was ejected from Sunday’s game between the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers for a Flagrant 2 foul against Doncic. It was the second incident of the series between the two, as Morris stepped on Doncic’s ankle during Game 5.

After Sunday’s game, Doncic made clear that he felt Sunday’s hard foul was intentional. He also no longer is giving Morris the benefit of the doubt on the previous incident.

“It was a terrible play. What can I say? It’s two games in a row he did something like that. I really hoped the first game it wasn’t on purpose, but looking back on the foul this game, you know what I think,” Doncic said.

Here is what happened in Game 5. And here is what Morris did in Game 6 to get ejected.

Doncic had previously said he hoped Morris hadn’t intentionally stepped on his foot in Game 5. Sunday’s events seem to have helped make up his mind despite Morris’ response to that incident.

The Clippers won Sunday’s Game 6 to eliminate the Mavericks. They might have to answer a few more questions about their perceived dirtiness in the days to come.

Standout performers of the NBA playoffs so far

Luka Doncic

Following the most unprecedented regular season in the history of the NBA, the 2020 playoffs have officially kicked off. Familiarity truly does breed contempt, and housing all of the postseason adversaries in one compound has only furthered the intensity.

Here are four of the standout performers from the first week of the NBA playoffs.

Halle-Luka

Every generational superstar has a defining moment or game in their career when their greatness becomes abundantly clear. Kobe Bryant’s came during the 2000 NBA Finals when he was just 21 years old, as he led the Lakers to a game four victory in overtime after Shaquille O’Neal fouled out. For LeBron James, it was scoring 25 straight points as the Cavaliers upset the Detroit Pistons in 2007. Despite it only being the first round of the playoffs, Luka Doncic’s Game 4 performance was his moment.

Nothing signifies the gravity of a moment quite like a “double BANG” from Mike Breen. The only thing more impressive than the shot itself was that it served as the exclamation point to cap off Doncic’s 43 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists triple-double effort. After rolling his ankle in the Maverick’s Game 3 loss, there was little reason for optimism in Dallas until Doncic delivered the most memorable game of the postseason so far. Doncic’s game has never been based around quickness; even on an injured ankle he’s been able to penetrate the Clippers’ defense at will.

In the playoffs, the Mavericks have simplified their offense. They regularly allowed Doncic to seek the mismatch he desires by forcing a switch through a ball screen. Watching Doncic dissect the defense is puzzling at times, as it appears almost as if he is lumbering around the screen until the moment he detects the opening and in one powerful burst he’s gone. His underrated explosion and size are reminiscent of James Harden, and factoring in the number of stepback threes each player makes, their shot profiles are remarkably similar.

The ultimate compliment for an NBA player comes from their opponents; look at what some of the NBA’s best had to say about Doncic.

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