Two Mavericks guards take advantage of Doncic’s rare absence.
Despite having the NBA’s second-highest usage percentage, Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks only missed six games last season.
Furthermore, according to NBAcom, Doncic’s 66 appearances placed him second behind Portland’s Damian Lillard, who played in one more game, among the top 12 scorers by average in 2020-21.
Doncic only played on the court 30 times in his first three seasons.
However, while Doncic’s usage, durability, and refusal to take nights off are impressive, especially in an era when teams are prone to resting their stars on a regular basis, his good attendance record means the Mavs rarely get the chance to see how they would perform without him.
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Whether they like it or not, they’ll get that chance a month into the new season.
Doncic sprained his left knee and ankle in the final seconds of Dallas’ Monday night victory over the Nuggets, and despite the team’s quick dismissal of the injury as minor and reports suggesting he could return as early as Friday, Doncic was dressed in street clothes for Wednesday night’s game against the Phoenix Suns, a 105-98 loss in which the Mavericks led for much of the game and were tied with 2:42 left in the fourth.
After telling reporters that he and the team could have played a lot better, big man Kristaps Porzingis (21 points on 7-for-20 shooting) said, “It was weird playing without Luka.”
“Normally, he’s in charge of the offense, and now we’re out there looking at each other, trying to figure out what we’re going to do.”
But, as jumbled as they were at times, Dallas’ strong performance without Luka was unquestionably encouraging, particularly at the guard position off the bench.
Trey Burke, an eighth-year guard, had only appeared in four games this season prior to Wednesday night.
Burke had sat out or been inactive in seven of the previous eight games.
And in the one exception, he only lasted a little over two minutes.
Burke, on the other hand, played 15 minutes against Phoenix and staked a claim for more playing time in the future (especially if Doncic continues to sit), scoring 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting and making both of his 3-point attempts.
3-ball with a pocket in the corner…
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