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Luka Doncic, author of his seventh consecutive triple-double on Monday in Chicago (127-92), has been unstoppable since the return of the All-Star Game. Launching into the best statistical season of his career, the Slovenian point guard and MVP candidate is carrying his Dallas Mavericks at arm’s length.

At the center of the United Center, dejected by the Bulls’ performance, Luka Doncic tasted a rare pleasure this season. A serene end to the game, observed from the bench, with victory in his pocket. The second most-used player in the entire NBA (37.5 minutes per game), the Slovenian was finally able to put down a half-RTT in the final quarter against Chicago (127-92), already relegated to more than 30 points (111-78, 42nd). But in 34 minutes on the floor, the former Real Madrid prodigy had time to deliver another recital.

With 27 points, 12 rebounds and 14 assists, he recorded his seventh consecutive triple-double. This is the third-longest streak in history behind Wilt Chamberlain (8) and Russell Westbrook (11). “I don’t know if these numbers make sense for him today. But when he retires, he’ll be able to remember those games when he was playing at a different level to everyone else,” complimented his coach Jason Kidd. Having been on the Mavericks bench for two and a half seasons, the former All-Star point guard knows how much he owes to his Slovenian successor.

Since the return of the All-Star Game, the latter has posted exceptional averages of 36.4 points, 10.2 rebounds and 12.1 assists to keep Dallas in the top 8 of the Western Conference, within rifle range of a direct ticket to the play-offs. “We shouldn’t take what he does for granted. When he plays every night, you see performances as rare as a painting by (Pablo) Picasso,” Kidd pictured on March 8 after another triple-double from his superstar.

Top scorer – Joel Embiid only played 34 games and is ineligible – as well as being the third-leading passer in the regular season, Doncic is enjoying the best campaign of his career. A fact confirmed by Doncic in early March: “Yes, it’s the best season ever, that’s for sure. But I still have a lot of progress to make. This is evident in a number of areas, with an increase in primary address (38% on ten attempts per game!) and a few less greedy ball-handlers (3.9 ball losses compared to 4.5 last season).

Enough to put him in the quintet of favourites for the MVP title, alongside Nikola Jokic (Denver), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Oklahoma City), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee) and Jayson Tatum (Boston). But the Slovenian’s seat is precarious, due to the Texans’ results, only eighth in the Western Conference and virtually obliged to go through the play-in to get back into the play-offs.

A place in the soft underbelly while his usage rate (percentage of possessions ending in a shot or a loose ball by the player) remains immense (35.6%), even with Kyrie Irving at his side. “He can do anything, he’s mesmerizing with the ball, but for a teammate, it must be exhausting to watch him do the same thing every game. He’s got help this year, this is the best team in his career. He’s got to use his teammates,” tackled former Mavericks winger Chandler Parsons on the Fan Duel podcast.


Criticism returned to sender by former All-Star pivot DeMarcus Cousins: “We talk about usage rate, about who has the ball in their hands. But if you look at this team, outside of Kyrie Irving, who should have the ball in their hands more (besides Doncic). I’m open to suggestions. Active at the trade deadline, the Mavericks attracted P.J. Washington and Daniel Gafford to densify their interior sector and take some pressure off Doncic’s shoulders.

While Washington is still finding his feet (averaging 11.4 points), Gafford is feasting on Slovenian caviars and remains on an incredible run of 28 successful shots in a row, most often from under the rim. “I’m still learning his (Doncic’s) game , where I need to position myself, how I can help him get his shots. But every night, I can already see how excellent he is,” confided the pivot on Sunday night.

With six triple-doubles of over 30 points, Doncic had set an NBA record before seeing his streak come to an end against Chicago. With no regrets. “It doesn ‘t matter (the numbers), I just want to win,” he brushed aside after a 137-120 loss to Indiana on March 6. This desire is heightened by the fact that the Mavericks’ 2022-2023 season will come to an end, with neither play-offs nor play-in qualification.

This post is originally from L’Équipe