Luka Doncic remains very committed in his preparation for the Dallas Mavericks' upcoming training camp this September. But the 24-year-old superstar is also uber-competitive in his pursuit of a gold medal either in the World Cup or Olympics for his home country of Slovenia, which has a population of just over 2 million people.
Doncic has notably even desired to bring home a World Cup or Olympic gold medal to his home country of Slovenia more than an NBA championship to Dallas because of how much more sentimental value it would hold for him.
A Mavericks fan’s guide to Luka Doncic’s upcoming Slovenia vs. Greece game
Some Mavericks fans have been critical of Doncic’s time spent with the national team through Olympic and World Cup qualifying games that he’s played with the Slovenian national team in nearly every summer since he stepped foot in Dallas.
Because of the egregious, year-round workload that both the NBA and national stage combine to command out of Doncic, fans worry it may catch up to him via injury, or that it’s the reason Dončić will never come into a Dallas training camp in ideal shape.
However, one could argue the inverse is true. Given his age, Doncic should be getting as much time playing time on the national stage as possible. It certainly helps him stay in game shape during the off-season, and eventually the money that the NBA delivers to a player of his caliber will likely win him over in the ladder years of his career.
Once he starts to weigh the risk versus the reward of playing for the Slovenian national team every summer, just as Dirk Nowitzki did with Germany later in his career, Doncic may likely tone it down later in his career on the national stage anyway.
Also, if he’s evaluating whether to prioritize his health over playing for the national team or not, Mavs fans will have nothing to worry about. He is on record after a quarter-final loss to Poland at EuroBasket 2022, saying that he'll play for Slovenia for as long as he can, but only if his health permits.
"I will return. I would always represent my country. If I'm healthy, I will always play for Slovenia."- Luka Doncic
The Mavericks were hopeful Doncic could rekindle what the organization deemed his ideal playing weight to be throughout the offseason.
Many Mavericks fans have also deemed Doncic to have peaked in the NBA bubble in terms of his explosion toward the rim, ability to blow past defenders, and stamina after being able to train and condition himself distraction-free for nearly five months when the NBA shut down in March of 2020.
Doncic seems to be trending back towards that level of conditioning and athleticism, as he can be seen here getting up easily for a reverse dunk in Slovenian team practice.
Something like this was seldom to be seen from Doncic in pre-game warm-ups over the past two seasons in Dallas.