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Luka Doncic out Sunday night vs. Chicago with quad contusion

Charlotte Hornets v Dallas Mavericks

DALLAS, TX - DECEMBER 30: Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks dribbles the ball during the game against the Charlotte Hornets on December 30, 2020 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBAE via Getty Images

Luka Doncic may not be living up to the preseason MVP hype — or even playing as well as last season — but he is still the heart of Dallas’ offense averaging 24.4 points and 6.4 assists a game.

Which is why Dallas could be in trouble with Doncic out Sunday against the Bulls with a thigh contusion. Coach Rick Carlisle made the announcement pregame, and would not rule Doncic out for Monday’s game against Houston.

Doncic is averaging 24.4 points per game this season, which is down about four points a game, but the bigger issue is Doncic’s efficiency — he is shooting 16.1% from three, down from 31.2% a year ago. Doncic’s assist percentage has dropped. His true shooting percentage is down closer to a league-average 53.8% this season, down from an above average 58.5% last season (which is impressive considering how much of the offense rests on him).

Former Dallas guard J.J. Barea said during an appearance on J.J. Redick’s podcast that a young Doncic doesn’t focus on his conditioning like a veteran and that could be an issue with the slow start.

Without Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks will likely struggle to score points, but Dallas has a top-10 defense in the league so far this young season.