Move over Dirk Nowitzki, there’s a new sheriff in town and his name is Luka Doncic. On Tuesday morning, Dallas Mavericks head coach Jason Kidd said that the Mavs’ four-time, All-NBA guard has moved ahead Nowitzki as the franchise’s best player.
As a quick refresher, Nowitzki spent his entire, 21-year career playing for Dallas — and is the only NBA player in history to play for a single team that long. The German native was the first European player to start an All-Star game and the first to take home the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award (2007).
Nowitzki, a 14-time All-Star and 12-time All-NBA selection, helped the Mavericks win their first and only NBA Finals championship in 2011 when they defeated the heavily favored and LeBron James-led Miami Heat. Nowitzki earned the NBA Finals MVP for his Herculean efforts in that series.
Dallas made the playoffs in all but six of the seasons that the power forward played for the franchise.
Oh, and did anyone mention he was just inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last year as a first-ballot nominee?
All that being the case, Kidd — Nowitzki’s former teammate — still gave the Mavs’ current star the nod over the franchise legend. And then took it a step further saying that Doncic deserves to be in even more illustrious company.
“He’s better than Dirk,” Kidd said on 97.1 The Freak’s “The Downbeat”. “He’s in the atmosphere of [Michael Jordan,] the best to ever do it, LeBron [James], Kobe [Bryant]. And so, just to appreciate what this young man’s doing at the age of 24, [it] is something that Dallas has never seen. I’ve said this internally: He is better than Dirk. He does things that Dirk could never do, and now is the opportunity of getting the right people around him to ultimately win a championship.”
The compliment isn’t coming out of nowhere for Kidd, a 2021 Hall of Fame inductee.
Doncic went on an unprecedented tear the weekend, with a 73-point effort in Dallas’ Friday night win over the Atlanta Hawks, a 17-assist game in a loss to the Sacramento Kings and then breaking out for a 45-point, 15-assist performance in the Mavs’ 131-129, nail-bitter win over the Orlando Magic on Monday.
The 73-point game marked the second-highest scoring performance the league has seen since Kobe Bryant’s 81-point game against the Toronto Raptors.
“I’m tired,” Doncic said via ESPN. “I can’t wait to go to sleep, honestly.”
The 24 year old is averaging 34.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.6 assists, and regarding Kidd’s comparison to Jordan, Doncic’s playoff average of 32.5 points is second only to the six-time NBA champion’s 33.4 points.
But that’s where the comparison stops.
Doncic’s teams have not had nearly the same level of success as either Nowitzki or Jordan’s teams. The Mavericks missed the playoffs last season and during Doncic’s rookie season in 2018-2019.
And while Dallas did make three consecutive appearances in the postseason from 2020-2022, the Mavs have only made it past the first round once during Doncic’s tenure. That 2022 playoff run did, however, concluded with the Mavericks playing in the Western Conference finals.
But for Kidd, he’s seen more than enough to believe that Doncic is just in the early stages of putting together a similarly legendary career in his own right.
“This young man is 24 and is breaking all the records that stand in front of him,” Kidd said. “He’s a winner, and his ultimate goal is to win a championship. And he will get there and not just win one, but he will win multiple when it’s all said and done.”