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Dirk Nowitzki says Luka Doncic is better than he was at that age


of the Golden State Warriors of the Dallas Mavericks during the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 9, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.

Ethan Miller

Luka Doncic is accomplished — he won the EuroLeague MVP at age 19 and was playing big minutes in the second-best league in the world last season. Expectations for him are high in Dallas.

Dirk Nowitzki did nothing to tamp those down Tuesday.

In an appearance on Dallas’ 105.3 The Fan’s Ben & Skin Show, Nowitzki heaped praise on the rookie.

“Yeah, he’s been here now for a week. He’s scrimmaged every day and works hard. I’m really liking what I’m seeing. He’s incredible with the ball for a big guy. He’s unbelievable in pick and roll play. His court vision is already unbelievable. I couldn’t believe what I saw from a 19/20-year-old. He’s a good shooter when he has time and I think he’s going to be great for us for a long, long time.”

Is he better than Nowitzki at that age?

“Oh yeah. I could shoot a little bit but I never had the court vision ... the savviness that he brings to the game. Just the way he already reads the pick and roll ... all the stuff like Chris Paul and these guys do ... He’s going to be fun to watch especially with bigs like DeAndre (Jordan) and Dwight (Powell) rolling to the rim ... He’s going to pick defenses apart and it’s going to be fun to watch.”

No pressure, kid.

That said, Doncic could be in the mix for Rookie of the Year if he gets the touches and loves up to the hype.

Dallas is going to rely on some young talent this season — Doncic and second-year player Dennis Smith Jr. — but this has the potential to work with Harrison Barnes spacing the floor and slashing, DeAndre Jordan rolling to the rim, and Nowitzki being Nowitzki. This team could be a lot more interesting, a lot more entertaining, and flat-out better than many realize. (If they weren’t in the brutal West we might be more excited, but in a gauntlet of a conference how many games can they really win?)