The Dallas Mavericks will face a tough stretch of games without star Luka Doncic, who's been ruled out due to persistent ankle soreness. Can the Mavs prove they can win without him, or will they slide further the Western Conference standings?
Luka Doncic is out due to ankle soreness
Doncic has been ruled out for several games, and there is no timeline set for his return after a nagging left ankle soreness forced him to sit out their game against the OKC Thunder, per Basketball News. It seems Luka's body is feeling the effects of non-stop basketball dating back to the offseason when he competed for the Olympics. He also disclosed he needed to be better in keeping himself in shape.
A report revealed that the Slovenian weighed over 260 pounds coming into training camp. Doncic admitted his mistake and claimed he might have relaxed a bit too much after the grueling Olympics. This reflects the need to become more accountable and responsible on his side to do his end of the bargain. Luka Doncic is a phenomenal player, but he has not lived up to expectations, mainly because the Mavs haven't had any significant success in the playoffs so far.
Can the Mavs win without Luka?
The Mavs can win without Luka, but it's a tall task. Dallas hasn't won in four games that Luka sat out. However, it could also serve as a rallying point for the franchise.
The Memphis Grizzlies are winning without Ja Morant. Other players have stepped up, but most importantly, they returned to their identity: defense. Without Doncic, who has been one of the problems of the Mavs this season, Dallas can tweak out its system, or other seldom-used players can use the extra minutes to show what they got.
Dallas averages 95.8 points per game without Luka, so offense bogs down a bit without him. The roster is loaded with scorers, so it's now up to coach Jason Kidd and the rest of the coaching staff to get the best of them.
The Mavs are now below .500 at 12-13, good for the 8th spot in the West. With their best player out, the team is in danger of sliding down the playoff picture. What the team needs to do is rediscover what worked last year.
Dallas, when Luka sat out, remained an elite offensive team. There were only a handful of NBA teams with a theoretically stronger supporting cast whose offense dipped when star players sit out, such as Jayson Tatum, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, and Chris Paul. Doncic was at 76th on the offensive on/off RAPTOR metric. This means whatever former coach Rick Carlisle did last season worked without Luka. Can the newly-assembled coaching staff work their magic this time around? Fans are waiting with bated breath.