Step 1: Improve on Rookie Season
Luka has already started off his NBA career in historic fashion. Not only did he win rookie of the year but he also joined the historic group of players who came into the league putting up 20 5 and 5. The list of players to do this include a who’s who’s list of NBA superstars to include Michael Jordan and Lebron James. Not only did he join the club he put up better rookie numbers than Lebron James and was an even better shooter, scorer, rebounder, and passer. Most players in their second year tend to improve in shooting percentage and their ability to stay on the floor. That alone would increase Luka’s overall stats and recognition making him an all star player. Right now if he played in the east he would be an all star caliber player. Unfortunately for him he plays in a loaded west and it might take him a couple more seasons or Lebron retiring in order for him to make an all star game or some kind of miraculous season. If he can somehow get the Mavericks in consideration for the playoffs this season then he can count on a career of all start nods. Not making the playoffs this year doesn’t diminish his career objectives as it took Durant and Lebron a couple years to make the playoffs before taking becoming main stays in championship races.
Step 2: Avoid Injuries
To go down as one of the best players to ever play the game you can’t just be great you also have to be durable. There have been many great players who had multiple mvp caliber seasons only to get hurt and never have their name realized as one of the greats to play the game. So far Luka looks pretty durable as evidence by his 72 game regular season. Missing ten games in today’s health conscious NBA is more of a sign that his team takes care of its star player than Luka being injury prone. To continue to play late into the season and then be able to handle the drain of long playoff runs Luka will have to improve on his body. While he is not in bad shape he still has room to improve so that he will not have to with stand some of the injuries that took away some of the top talents that where unable to continue playing at higher levels. Right now I would compare his physical conditioning to Joel Embid of last year. If he puts more into his diet and maybe takes up yoga I am sure he can avoid the injury bug.
Step 3: Start Winning
While making the playoffs this year might be an unrealistic goal, it is important for Luka and the Mavericks to improve on their win total every year. He doesn’t want to get stuck in the Devin Booker realm of good possibly great player playing for a perennial lottery team. The media would never let him live that down. By next season Luka should be positioning the Mavericks for a playoff appearance. Most top level players started making the playoffs by their third year in the league. With him and Porzingis their is no way they should be missing the playoffs after next year with another lottery pick and Rick Carlisle as the coach. The key to building a legend isn’t necessarily the quick success of making playoffs or winning championships it is the sustained consistency of constantly winning over time. When he does finally make the playoffs he will need to be able to maintain that level of success and gradually improve on that year by year. What we don’t want to see happen as fans is him going to the finals too early just to lose and never make it back or taking one step forward just to take step backs.
Step 4: Develop Chemisty with Porzingis
The next step is not completely up to Luka. This is the part where every star player needs help. There has never been a point in the NBA where one player won championships single handily. Even though most Jordan fans would like to think so. Every player that has won championships has at least had a consistent co-star or a few co-starts that helped lighten the load on them which allowed them to dominate. In Luka’s case he has another player on his team already who has great potential and could go down himself as one of the better players to ever play the game. What better side kick could you ask for than a 7’3 above average three point shooter who excels as a shot-blocker and defender? The league this off-season has switched back from a three star league back to a team with two star players and a bunch of role players. Out of those twosomes Luka and KP’s fit seems to be up there with the rest. This pick and pop duo could be amazing plus KP has the ability to score of the dribble or in the block. Luka could run point with KP at power forward. To me they have the look of a younger not as polished Lebron and Anthony Davis. While it will take more than KP and Luka to take them to the playoffs that is a very solid start for a young team. There are only a couple of duo’s in the league who have close to the amount of talent that these two posses. Duo’s such as Ben Simmons and Joel Embid, Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker, and Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic are in the same realm as this group. Out of these duo’s KP and Luka are the youngest.
Step 5: Win Mvp’s and Championships
The last and final step for Luka to be one of the greatest players to ever grace the basketball court is to win MVP’s and championships. In today’s NBA it isn’t just enough to win championships you can’t just win finals you also have to be the undisputed best player in the league and the best player in the finals. The best players to ever play the game have multiple regular season MVP’s and Final MVP’s. The magic number for finals wins as everyone should know at this point is 6 and in particular winning 6 and having no losses. It is almost better to not even make the finals then to lose one as the sports analyst on ESPN will never forgive him. If Luka is able to obtain these feats not only would he have NBA rings and MVP’s he would also have international championships to add to his resume giving him a clear shot at the ability to pass the GOAT.
Luka’s career outlook
Projecting Luka’s career is pretty hard to do considering he is only 19 years old coming of a rookie season. It is clear from what we have seen so far and his overseas accomplishments that he is not just a flash in the pan but a player who could become a superstar that could transcend the game. He has the skill and the background to draw new fans to the game. It won’t be long before Europeans are tuning in to NBA games to keep up with Luka Doncic. Overall Luka has the ability to become an all time great but it will take a little bit of luck staying injury free and the right blend of teammates.