The Curious Case that Was Rookie Luka Doncic’s All-Star Game Push
It’s not often that a 19-year old rookie captures the attention of the entire basketball universe after only acquiring a handful of NBA games under his belt.
A relative unknown to most of the western hemisphere just a year ago, Luka Doncic was the biggest question mark going into the 2019 NBA Draft. He was a star on the international circuit, dominating the EuroLeague as a teenager. The Slovenian prodigy was playing professional basketball for powerhouse Real Madrid since he was 16, becoming the youngest EuroLeague MVP in the league’s history in his pre-draft campaign.
Yet, the translation of his skillset from the EuroLeague to the NBA was constantly questioned.
Rookies in his own draft class openly doubted him, NBA scouts and executives shied away from buying into his stock, and as draft day approached, it was impossible to predict his slot in the lottery.
When the Dallas Mavericks traded for Luka’s draft rights, the dream was to pair him with last year’s lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr.
But as Smith’s play failed to reach the franchise’s expectations, Doncic turned into an overnight sensation.
A magician with the basketball with the in-game IQ and maturity way beyond his years, Doncic has taken over Dallas. He became the basketball equivalent of football’s Baker Mayfield.
His patent step-back and ability to come through in clutch moments has taken his fame to new heights. His personality is marketable and his high-level of production has already cemented him as this year’s Rookie of the Year. It’s clear that ‘The Matador’ will be a problem for years to come and is a budding superstar in this League. Realistically, if he was in the Eastern Conference, his numbers would warrant an All-Star nod. On the season, he is averaging 20.4 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 5.4 assist per game.
He is the youngest player in NBA history to accomplish a 30-point triple-double. Hell, outside of LeBron James, no other front court Western Conference player amassed more All-Star fan votes than Doncic – that includes the likes of Kevin Durant, Anthony Davis, and Paul George.
— Overtime (@overtime) February 1, 2019
Yet, his All-Star push came to a halt on Thursday evening when the Western Conference reserves were announced.
A leader in the fan vote, he was unable to overcome the media and player vote to be named a starter. His dreams of being named a reserved were dashed by the coaches who opted to select seven other players to round out the Western All-Stars. While rookies don’t often get the same love from media, coaches, and players alike, Doncic’s numbers are comparable to those of Blake Griffin from Griffin’s rookie All-Star campaign.
As the grandest basketball showcase of the calendar year approaches, one of the game’s most exciting and entertaining players will be sitting this one out.
The NBA All-Star game is a display of the game’s most exciting players. It’s a massive marketing event which aims to draw in as many fans as possible.
So I’ll leave you with this question.
Should the All-Star game be about getting the best players in, or even good players on winning in, or should it focus on recognizing their most marketable and exciting stars?