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Dirk Nowitzki: Luka Doncic Better Than I Was at 19

Alec Nathan

Take it from Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki, and Luka Doncic may soon be on a path to stardom. 

Appearing on 105.3 The Fan's Ben & Skin Show Tuesday, the future Hall of Famer didn't hesitate when asked if Doncic is already better than he was at 19 years old.

"Oh yeah," Nowitzki said. "I could shoot a little bit, but I never had the court vision, the savviness and the stuff that he brings to the game. Just the way he already reads the pick-and-roll ... like Chris Paul and these guys do. ... He's going to be fun to watch especially with a big like DeAndre [Jordan] rolling to the rim, Dwight [Powell] rolling to the rim. ... He's going to pick some defenses apart, and it should be fun to watch."

Nowitzki said he was able to make that determination after scrimmaging with Doncic over the past week: 

"He's scrimmaged every day, works hard. I really like what I'm seeing. He's incredible with the ball for a big guy. ... He's unbelievable in pick-and-roll play. ... The court vision is already unbelievable. I couldn't believe what I saw for a 19/20-year-old. Unbelievable. He's a good shooter when he has time, and I think he's going to be great for us for a long, long time.

"Obviously, I don't want to put too much pressure on him, either. Coming over from a different country, I went through the same thing about 20 years ago. It's tough to adjust to a lot of things. ... For me, that took a full year. My first year was really, really tough."

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That's lofty praise, especially from a player of Nowitzki's caliber, but Doncic's credentials suggest it's warranted. 

The No. 3 overall pick in June's draft became the youngest player in Euroleague history to be named MVP last season, and he added Euroleague Final Four MVP honors to his resume while leading Real Madrid to a title in May. 

Now settling into life with the Mavericks, Doncic will team up with 2017 lottery pick Dennis Smith Jr. to comprise one of the league's most daunting young backcourts. 

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