Mavericks Plan to Start Luka Doncic ‘A Little Light’ to Start the Season

Luka Doncic has had a tough offseason after playing in the 2022 FIBA Eurobasket tournament with the Slovenian national team.

Every time Doncic fell hard during a game or got bumped, Dorian Finney-Smith had a completely relatable thought process, yelling at Doncic through the tv to “get up” or “get him out of there” during physical moments. The Mavericks coaching staff felt the same way as they watched the 23-year-old MVP candidate play in the international tournament.

”We’re going to start a little light,” Coach Jason Kidd said per the Dallas Morning News. “But as we all know, in this room, Luka loves to play basketball, so he’s ready to go, and he’ll probably tell you that today. But we want just to start slow.

“This is a marathon. He just got done playing [for Slovenia]. But anytime he sees the game plan for practice, and he sees scrimmage, he’s ready to play.”

Doncic first reported to the Slovenian national team in mid-June, two weeks after the Mavericks dropped the Western Conference to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors. After he prepared and played in two FIBA World Cup games in early July, he took a month off before playing in the Eurobasket tournament.

Luka Legend averaged 26 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 6.6 assists per EuroBasket game — the only player to rank in the top-10 for each category in the tournament — and played 233 of a possible 280 minutes through Slovenia’s outings. Doncic played more minutes per game during Eurobasket (35.6 minutes per game) than when he played with the Mavericks (35.4 minutes per game). International games are 40 minutes long vs. 48 in the NBA.

Between Eurobasket and flying back to Dallas for Media Day and training camp, Doncic had eight full days of rest. When Kidd and Doncic met up at Dallas legend DirNowitzki’s celebrity charity tennis tournament, Kidd told Doncic that he won’t participate fully in training camp, and would take a ramp-up approach as camp took place. This is the plan of action because Dallas doesn’t want to fatigue Doncic too much to start the season.

“Luka’s in a great place,” Kidd said. “You can see his spirit is high. He’s smiling. He feels great. He looks great; he’s ready to play — We ask a lot of him, and we have to — as a staff and teammates — try to find a way to make it easier for him; that’s going to be a great challenge that everyone’s up for.”

Doncic also revealed that his injured wrist had healed as well as the stitches in his head after he got elbowed by a French big man during Slovenia’s game against France. He told reporters with a smile that he’s “good now” and has the same season individual goals as always.

“Always the goal is the same for me, for the team we’re trying to win the championship,” Doncic said. “That’s the only goal we have, and that’s what we’re going to work for.”