How far can Luka Magic take the Mavericks?

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During this year’s first-round matchup against the heavily favored Clippers, Luka Doncic has shown flashes of brilliance that evoke images of legends such as Larry Bird and Lebron James. He has quickly gained status as one of the brightest stars in the league, and many predict great success in the near future. Is Luka Doncic poised for a championship run in the next three years?

We are seeing one of the best talents in the league blossom into a superstar. 

Luka Doncic, at only age 21, has established himself as a true phenom and an MVP caliber player in the NBA. Not only does he possess nearly every single triple-double record for players under the age of 21, but his plays have also drawn comparisons to legends like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Lebron James. Despite his awe-inspiring rookie campaign, Luka missed the playoffs last year. But in the 2019-’20 season, he elevated his play to an even higher level, ultimately clinching a playoff berth. Forget sophomore slumps—Doncic has been the definition of excellence.

Still, there were lingering questions as to whether Luka’s “clutch” ability could translate into the playoffs or whether he could maintain his poise when the game slows down. After all, Doncic hadn’t experienced anything near the intensity of an NBA playoff game. But Doncic’s dazzling performances, epitomized by his game-winning buzzer-beater in game 4 in the first round of the playoffs, have erased those doubts. His audacity to attempt a game-winning stepback three-pointer at a one-point deficit game is definitely something special. Of course, any championship-caliber team needs role players or even an all-star to support their superstar. Fortunately, the Mavericks have Kristaps Porzingis, the 7-feet tall “unicorn”, a rightful name given to him by Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant for Porzingis’s unique blend of skill. As long as Porzingis’s health does not falter, teams will need to watch out for the Doncic-Porzingis duo. Although the Mavericks did go on to lose the series against the Clippers in game six, the future of Doncic and the Mavericks is bright. So do not be surprised to see Luka Doncic holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy for the Mavericks in the next couple of years.

Be cautious of small sample sizes.

Luka’s recent run has certainly been sensational—but it has been sensationalized. The first round of the playoffs is always a time of overreaction: some analysts thought the Trail Blazers might beat the Lakers after the first game, despite the Lakers being the highest seed and Blazers being the lowest. The same irrational thinking has been applied to Luka. After a couple of performances, countless critics are clamoring to place him among NBA greats such as Lebron James or Kevin Durant. But in the NBA, superstars and all-stars lie on an entirely different stratosphere; all-stars may have a couple of magnificent stretches, but consistency in performance is what solidifies a player into a superstar. Only look as far as Isiah Thomas during his time with the Boston Celtics: although many NBA fans believed that Isiah Thomas could develop into a superstar, the two-time all-star has been relegated to a role player after being traded from the Celtics to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Do not get me wrong, Luka is great. He led the Mavericks to the most efficient offense of all time in just his second season. But the playoffs are an entirely different monster. Some of the best offensive players in the game today, such as James Harden, Russell Westbrook, Paul George, or Joel Embiid, have struggled in the postseason. Perhaps we have become too accustomed to generational talents such as the 24-year-old NFL champion and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes to recognize the fact that young players require time to develop fully. Everyone has a desire to be the one to find the next Amazon or the next Google—and that desire extends to sports. Let us not expect Luka to win a championship so soon, or to be the next Bird, the next Lebron, the next Magic—let us just appreciate his unique brand of basketball.