Rick Carlisle Says Mavs' Luka Doncic in 'Same Mold' as Larry Bird, Jason Kidd

Blake SchusterAnalyst IIAugust 9, 2020

Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic passes away from Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) and Wesley Matthews, right, during an NBA basketball game Saturday, Aug. 8, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. (Kevin C. Cox/Pool Photo via AP)
Kevin C. Cox/Associated Press

Luka Doncic is just 21 years old and comparing his skill set to some of the NBA's all-time greats already seems like the only way to discuss his talent.

Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle did just that Saturday following Doncic's stunning 36-point, 19-assist, 14-rebound performance in a 136-132 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

"He knows where everybody is not only on offense, but defense," Carlisle told reporters after the game. "That's the sign of a savant-type guy. I've played with Larry Bird, he could see everything like that. I had the privilege of coaching Jason Kidd ... Luka is in that same mold."

Doncic's most spectacular play came late in overtime when he took the ball from Maxi Kleber at the top of the arc, rolled to his left and dished a no-look between the legs pass to a cutting Kleber for an easy dunk and-1.

Asked about the play afterward, Doncic said it was just a natural decision.

"I don't know why I did it," Doncic added. "I just did it. I saw it, I don't know. I didn't think about it before—right in the moment."

The play helped put Dallas up by five with 1:08 left in OT and followed arguably a more eye-popping play before it.

While driving into the paint, three Bucks converged on Doncic as he was getting ready to kiss a shot off the backboard. Instead of attempting the layup, Doncic contorted his body in midair, glided a pass through the wall of defenders around him and found a teammate for an open three-pointer. Unfortunately, the referees called a foul on Eric Bledsoe before the shot got off, robbing Dallas of another highlight-reel play.

Kleber's and-1 on the ensuing play more than made up for it.

On a night when the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo went off for 34 points and 13 boards, Doncic made him almost irrelevant.

The second-year guard committed just two turnovers to his 19 assists. Only two other Mavericks players have recorded as many helpers, per ESPN Stats & Info: Steve Nash and Kidd.

As Carlisle alluded to, comparing Doncic to all-time greats is becoming the norm.