Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic performed significantly better last season when he had rest. He needs a load management protocol.
The Dallas Mavericks have their superstar for the next fifteen years. Luka Doncic is lighting up the NBA. He is the second coming of Dirk Nowitzki and could end his playing career as the most decorated European-born player.
As much as Doncic is must-see TV whenever he steps on the court, longevity is key for the Mavericks to keep him on the court and become a serious title-contender for multiple seasons. That is why load management for Doncic is important as the Mavs brace for long-term success.
Derrick Rose recently said if there was load management years ago then he would still be playing at an MVP-level for the Chicago Bulls. In Major League Baseball, fans saw the Washington Nationals elect to not pitch Stephen Strasburg in the postseason a year after recovering from Tommy John surgery.
These are classic examples the Mavericks can learn from when considering Doncic’s long-term durability. The organization has transitioned from Nowitzki to Doncic as the franchise cornerstone. The 20-year-old already leads the NBA in triple-doubles (seven) and recently became the second player to record a 40-plus point triple-double.
With the Mavericks off to a solid 9-5 start, it can be argued that Doncic is already a top-10 player in the league. He is almost averaging a triple-double at 29.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game. Luka is shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 33.6 from long-distance. He is also averaging 35.0 minutes per game. This number does not have to go down, it simply needs to be managed.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban has already come out in favor of load management in the NBA. In Doncic’s case, the numbers don’t lie. Last year, in 14 games on two days rest, Doncic averaged 23.1 points per game while shooting 46.2 percent from the field in 32.2 minutes. In 10 games played on back-to-backs without any rest days, Doncic’s numbers dipped to 18.1 points per game on 38 percent shooting in 30.6 minutes played.
Fans come out to see a competitive game and quality of play falls when players are tired.
The Mavericks are trying to establish identity and grow their brand. Doncic is only 20 years old, and he’s just starting to get recognition as one of the game’s elite players.
The regular season is fun and everyone loves seeing highlights or dazzling clips on YouTube, but a player’s reputation and credibility is built in the playoffs. TV ratings, viewership, and fan interest increases during the playoffs. If the Mavs keep their pace, they will become more than just a playoff team. Dallas could become a title contender.
Luka Doncic needs to be healthy and rested for the Dallas Mavericks to make a deep playoff run. His minutes need to be monitored during the season. If he sits out back-to-backs (like Kawhi Leonard), the numbers have shown his productivity improves. Load management and keeping Doncic ready for playing more than 82 games should be a top priority for the Mavericks this year.