Luka Dončić made history as he became the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to score 30 or more points in the first
Chamberlain is the only player to score 30+ points in eight-or-more consecutive games, having done so in 1959-60 (first 8 games) and 1962-63 (first 23 games). Dončić increased his scoring average to a league leading 36.1 points per game, while also grabbing 8.9 rebounds per game and dishing out 9.0 assists per game. Dončić has totaled 253 points, 62 rebounds and 63 assists through the first seven games, becoming the first player in league history to produce 250+ points, 50+ boards and 50+ assists through the first seven games of the year.
Dončić became just the second player in Mavs history to have a 40-point game without a turnover (the other, of course, being Dirk Nowitzki, who accomplished the feat on 3 separate occasions). It was the third time Dončić recorded a zero-turnover game overall (0 turnovers in 26 minutes at PHI 1/5/19; 0 turnovers in 33 minutes at OKC 1/27/20). The Mavericks improved to 2-0 this season (13-4 all-time) when Dončić goes for 40+ points.
Much has been made over the last few years with respect to Dončić’s slow starts. Luka has generally played much of the summer for his national Slovenian basketball team, rarely taking time off from the grind of the NBA season. Much of the narrative surrounding Dončić has been that he has been out of shape at the start of the regular season, leading to sluggish play and slow starts for the Mavericks. In turn, Luka’s MVP chances have taken hits, even though he’s widely been considered a favorite coming into the last two years.
While Dončić currently leads the league in PPG, the Mavericks sit at just 4-3 through the season’s first two weeks. However, the argument can be made that the Mavericks should be 6-1, if not 7-0 to start the season. The defensive breakdowns and rotation issues have caused Dallas to blow double digit leads to both Phoenix and Oklahoma City, while also giving up 40 points in the first quarter to a Pelicans team that was missing three of their best players.
While it’s hard to imagine that Dončić will keep up these stats throughout the season, his high scoring output might be what Dallas needs in order to succeed and advance far in the postseason. With the lack of a second star on this team, the Mavericks are incredibly reliant on Luka’s offense to drive them to victories. Assuming Dallas’ defense can play to the level they played at last year, Luka’s hot start could provide some additional wins that will help in the standings later in the year. Dončić would also continue to ascend in the MVP voting, an award he’s been the preseason favorite heading into the season.
His slow starts have always been a hinderance to his overall MVP campaign, but so far, his start to the season has put that to rest. The question now remains if the Mavericks can win the games they need to in order to not only keep Luka in the MVP conversation, but to also put themselves in a position to win a NBA title.