The Dallas Mavericks are preparing to begin their first season without Dirk Nowitzki since 1997-98. Although he played a career-low of 15.6 minutes in just 51 games in his final NBA campaign, Nowitzki was still an invaluable member of the squad due to his experience and leadership. Thankfully for the Mavericks, they have new faces who have shown enough promise to be optimistic for the future.
Last year, Luka Doncic brought plenty of excitement back to the American Airlines Center. As the new franchise player of the Mavericks, it was only fitting that Nowitzki passed the torch to the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year. Doncic is well-aware that he has some big shoes to fill, but he appears ready to take on the challenge.
"Follow in Dirk's steps," said Doncic to reporters during the Mavericks media day, per Forbes.
"You know, he's been here—what, 21 years? I want to stay here. They want me here. So, just follow in Dirk's steps," added Doncic, in regard to playing for the Mavericks and Nowitzki's departure.
Doncic may be on the right path, but he has a long way to go. Nowitzki is the only player in NBA history to play 21 consecutive seasons for the same team. He also led the Mavericks to their lone championship in 2011 while capturing the Finals MVP.Mavericks fans will surely be thrilled to hear Doncic's remarks given the number of trade requests in recent memory. Of course, things could always change for the worse in the future as very few players finish their careers with one franchise. Currently, Udonis Haslem, Mike Conley, Russell Westbrook, and Stephen Curry, are the only active NBA players who remained with the same team for more than 10 seasons.
On the other hand, the Mavericks would love to keep Doncic for as long as possible. But the 20-year-old is now tasked with leading the team back into the playoff picture. In Doncic's rookie year, fans were simply excited to see him in action. The stakes are much higher now that the Mavericks are determined to return to the postseason following a three-year absence.
Recent reports have suggested that the Mavericks may add more pieces to improve their depth. Andre Iguodala could be an option for the team, as the Mavericks were among the teams linked to him, as previously reported by The Inquisitr.
During his media day conference, Doncic noted his belief that the Mavericks can reach the 2020 NBA Playoff. It would be an impressive accomplishment for the sophomore star who wishes to follow Nowitzki's footsteps.