How Mavericks star Luka Doncic climbed the MVP ladder without playing

Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks
Houston Rockets v Dallas Mavericks / Tim Heitman/GettyImages

The Dallas Mavericks had arguably their worst loss of the season last night against the Memphis Grizzlies, as they fell 108-94 in an extreme slug-fest offensively. The absence of Luka Doncic for Dallas was readily apparent, as it was only Dallas’ second time scoring under 100 points all season.

Doncic’s absence was warranted given that he and his fiancée welcomed their firstborn child into the world yesterday, but perhaps it made Doncic’s case to win MVP even more formidable. Doncic has played in every single Mavericks game this season barring last night, and he’s posted averages of 31.1 points per game, 8.0 rebounds per game, and 7.9 assists per game through 17 contests.

How Mavericks star Luka Doncic climbed the MVP ladder without playing

Doncic has been in as good of shape as we’ve seen since he’s been in Dallas, and he’s luckily been able to battle through a few minor injuries early in the season en route to one of his more consistent starts in his career. Doncic is shooting 38.8 percent from 3-point land with plenty of his attempts being heavily contested.

Doncic has drawn skepticism for not trying to get to the rim more despite getting in better shape this past offseason, but if he’s shooting this efficiently from downtown then you can’t blame him for using his shooting ability to open up his drive-and-kick ability compared to the other way around.

As we saw last night, the Memphis Grizzlies were able to key in on Kyrie Irving by face-guarding him, and without Doncic as a release valve for that pressure, Irving and the rest of the Mavericks had a really tough time getting into their offensive sets.

Doncic obviously can’t miss too many games in his pursuit of MVP as playing less than 70 games would eliminate him from consideration, but a game without Doncic now and then always tends to highlight how deficient the Mavericks are on offense when his presence is missing.

Perhaps this will provoke more praise for Doncic’s MVP campaign from a national media perspective since the Mavericks played so badly without him, as talking heads across the league have finally started to acknowledge Irving and Doncic’s ability to lead the Mavericks as a dynamic duo.

Doncic will get a chance to further his MVP campaign tonight though, as Dallas will face off against the Oklahoma City Thunder at 8:00 p.m. CDT tonight. For more on Luka Doncic’s MVP campaign and everything else going on with the Dallas Mavericks, stay tuned as we’ll have you covered.