Dallas Mavericks star guard Luka Doncic made his return to the court Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs after missing the past two weeks with an ankle injury.
With some help from Seth Curry, it looks like the second-year player has not missed a step. Doncic finished with 24 points, nine rebounds and eight assists in a 102-98 win over the Spurs.
Already one of the most-skilled players in the league, the 20-year-old Doncic returning from injury can’t be seen as great news for other Western Conference contenders.
The injury: When Doncic rolled his ankle back in Dec. 14 against the Miami Heat, it looked really bad. In fact, there was some concern that this might be a long-term injury.
- That obviously did not prove to be the case. While teams don’t wish injuries on anyone, Doncic’s presence on the Mavericks make them a legit force out west.
- Dallas now boasts an 18-8 record in the 26 games that Doncic has played this season. It was 2-2 in the four games he missed.
- Of those 18 victories, he has tallied 30-plus points nine times and has put up five triple-doubles.
- The all-around game Doncic provides creates so many opportunities for other players. The spacing. The ball movement. It was readily apparent in Thursday night’s win over the Spurs.
Other factors: Looking at the ultra-competitive Western Conference, it’s easy to conclude other top-end teams might be concerned about a healthy Doncic.
- Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James is dealing with yet another groin injury he suffered on Christmas Day.
- Dallas might not be a match for the Lakers with James and Anthony Davis on the court, but it’s a different scenario if the King is injured or if AD is hobbled.
- The Mavericks’ 18-8 record in games Doncic has played would nearly match what the winning percentages both the Clippers and Sixers have put up. It would also surpass what we’ve seen from the defending champion Raptors as well as the Rockets.
The danger zone: No longer are these Mavericks a feel-good story.
- With Kristaps Porzingis finally getting off the ground and one of the most-dynamic benches in the NBA, Dallas has the makings of a legit playoff force.
- Owner Mark Cuban is looking to add another skilled big to go with Porzingis. As we already know, Mr. Cuban is not afraid to make that bold trade.
- If this were to come to fruition and with Doncic dominating at this level, Dallas might have something to say in the Western Conference when all is said and done this coming spring.
The bottom line
We’ve already focused on Doncic being one of the most-dominant offensive players in the game. Here’s a dude that entered Thursday’s action averaging 29.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.9 assists on 48% shooting from the field.
He’s doing things at this age we have not seen from anyone since LeBron James. Now, with Doncic able to return from a scary-looking injury without missing a step, this has to be seen as a nightmare scenario for rival Western Conference squads.
It’s that simple.