The NBA rookie of the year race is on the home stretch. Through the first three months of the season, Luka Doncic was clearly the favorite to win the award. However, Doncic may have taken a backseat to Trae Young for multiple reasons. If winning matters, Doncic and the Mavericks let the race get close due to personnel moves. As a result, team success may be the ultimate factor in deciding this coveted award.
When the Dallas Mavericks opened the 2018-19 season, they weren’t a playoff contender. They might not have known the postseason was a possibility, however, Doncic was leading the team to unexpected heights after a slow start. Remember, the Mavericks sustained a six-game losing streak that started against the Atlanta Hawks. Still, Doncic scored in double figures in 19 straight games to start the season.
The Mavericks really started to roll by game 10 of the season. Not only was Doncic producing at an all-star level, the Mavericks were winning games. They won 13 out of 17 games to move to (15-11) on the Dec. 12. More importantly, Doncic led the Mavericks to a win in the rematch over Young. Meaning, the two rookies split the season series. Unfortunately, the Mavericks have won 15 more games since the win over the Hawks.
Moreover, the Mavericks are (7-18) since February. They have only won four games since all-star break, including a 106-103 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Sunday night. However, Doncic did not play in Sunday’s game. And that may be the biggest factor in the rookie of the year race. Doncic has only played in 70 games this season. Realistically, it’s not that bad. However, his biggest competition has played in all 77 games for the Hawks. Will the game discrepancy become a factor when the votes are tallied at the end of the season?
Keep in mind, Doncic has scored in double figures in 66 of the 70 games played. The Mavericks are also (3-3) with Doncic out of the lineup. Doncic is averaging 21.1 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.9 assists during his rookie season. He is shooting 42.5 percent from the field and 32.7 percent from 3-point range. Doncic must improve his foul shooting. He only connected on 70.9 percent of his free throw attempts. Doncic also has six triple doubles this season. The Mavericks are (2-4) in those games.
Currently, the Mavericks have a better record than the Hawks. They are (30-46) while the Hawks are (28-49). However, the Mavericks have only gone (3-7) in their last 10 contests. There is a legitimate opportunity for the Hawks to catch the Mavericks at the end. With neither team making the postseason, this is one of the most intriguing races before the playoffs commence.
Prediction: Right now, Doncic is still in the lead to win the rookie of the year, but he better get back on the court before the season ends. Or else the rookie of the year award will go elsewhere.