NBA

Luka Doncic Is ‘Not in the Best Shape’ Right Now, but Dallas Mavericks Fans Don’t Need to Worry

Prior to the NBA season’s suspension, Luka Doncic was posting impeccable numbers. In his second year in the league, the young guard had the Dallas Mavericks fighting for a postseason berth; when the campaign resumes, however, the young star might not be in the best physical condition.

While there’s no arguing with Luka Doncic’s talent, the young star’s trainer recently explained that he’s a bit out of shape from the league-enforced layoff. That might sound scary for Dallas Mavericks fans, but, in reality, there’s probably nothing to worry about.

Luka Doncic was growing into one of the NBA’s brightest stars

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While it may seem like an eternity since we last watched an NBA game, the 2019-20 season had shaped up into a pretty enjoyable campaign. That was thanks, at least in part, to Luka Doncic’s rise to stardom.

Doncic cut his teeth in Europe, playing for his hometown Union Olimpija before signing with Real Madrid. In the Spanish capital, he grew into the player we know today. After forcing his way into the senior squad at age 16, Doncic stepped forward as a legitimate star; in 2018, he claimed a EuroLeague Title, MVP award, and Final Four MVP award, then entered into the NBA draft.

The Atlanta Hawks made Doncic the third-overall pick of the 2018 NBA draft but promptly traded him to the Dallas Mavericks. As recorded by USA Today, Rick Carlisle predicted his new player could develop into a Dirk Nowitzki-syle cornerstone; even the coach, however, probably didn’t expect it to happen this quickly.

During his first NBA season, Doncic averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6 assists per game and cruised to the Rookie of the Year award. His 2019-20 campaign was looking even stronger; the guard averaged 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 8.7 assists per night before the NBA suspended all on-court action.

The NBA suspension has left the guard in less than ideal condition

When the coronavirus pandemic brought the entire world to a halt, the NBA was no exception. Without any games, Luka Doncic has headed home to Slovenia; while he’s been attempting to say in shape, his trainer says the star is obviously a bit short of full fitness ahead of the league’s restart.

“We have been working together for the last three weeks. Luka was previously in quarantine and trained individually at home,” Jure Drasklar told RIA Novosti, as translated by Eurohoops.net. “The last three weeks, we have been working hard to prepare him for the resumption of the NBA season.”

While Doncic has plenty of talent, it’s simply tough to stay in playing shape at home. That problem, however, is probably going to be pretty universal.

“Most players struggled to stay in shape. Doncic is no exception,” Drasklar continued. “We understand his role in Dallas. Luka is improving every day. He puts in a lot of effort. He has completely dedicated himself to be ready.”

The Dallas Mavericks don’t need to worry about Luka Doncic

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As an outside observer, it might seem jarring to hear Luka Doncic isn’t in the best shape. As Drasklar explained, however, the Dallas Mavericks probably don’t have anything to worry about.

“He is not in the best shape, which is normal. NBA games will not be played before the end of July, so there is enough time to help him recover and get ready,” the strength and conditioning coach continued. “However, he undoubtedly would be ready to play right now.”

Drasklar also noted that the next step for Doncic is to resume practicing with his teammates; beyond fitness, there’s a certain level of chemistry that can only develop from working together day in and day out.

All of that might sound scary for a team trying to make the playoffs, but those problems won’t be unique to Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. For better or worse, the entire league is in the same boat; everyone has been isolated from their teammates and, regardless of any workout regimens, is probably short of game shape. Even the most dedicated can’t recreate an NBA game in social isolation.

Beyond that universality, there’s another reason the Dallas Mavericks don’t have to worry too much. Even if he’s not 100% fit, Luka Doncic will still be a dominant player.

Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference