A few weeks back, Dallas Mavericks phenom guard Luka Doncic suffered an ugly ankle injury that looked like it would force him to miss extended time.
Shortly after the MRI came back negative, it appeared the MVP candidate had dodged a bullet and would only miss a handful of games. The Mavericks held their own in the time without their superstar, going 2-2 in the four games he missed.
The two wins were extremely impressive - Dallas snapped the Milwaukee Bucks 18-game win streak in Milwaukee as Kristaps Porzingis and the rest of the Mavericks supporting cast stepped up. They suffered a close loss at home to the Boston Celtics, but then took down another Eastern Conference powerhouse, handing the Philadelphia 76ers their first home loss of the season without the 19-year-old star.
When Doncic got hurt, Dallas was sitting firmly in third place of the Western Conference. Ahead of his return to the lineup, the Mavericks had dropped a few spots to the No. 5 spot.
In Doncic's first game back, Dallas picked up a 102-98 win over the San Antonio Spurs to advance to 20-10, just one game back from second place in the West.
Luka shined in his return game, showing no signs of rust. The Mavericks' star had a near-triple-double going for 24 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists to lead his team to victory.
24 PTS | 10 REB | 8 AST@luka7doncic picks up where he left off as the @dallasmavs defeat SAS in his return to the court! #MFFL pic.twitter.com/WkbTLMDYZP- NBA (@NBA) December 27, 2019
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He wasn't as efficient as he usually is, going 9-for-23 (39.1%) from the field and 1-for-6 (16.7%) from 3-point range, but his playmaking ability and gravity on offence created better looks for his teammates as six different Mavericks scored in double figures.
Doncic was well on his way to his first All-Star nod prior to the ankle injury. The Slovenian prodigy was averaging a near-triple-double of 29.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game, starting a strong case for this season's MVP.
His points and assists per game averages each rank third-best in the NBA while he's the only guard in the league in the top-20 in rebounds per game.
The list of players in the NBA this season averaging over 25 points, nine rebounds and eight assists? Luka Doncic. That's it. That's the end of the list.
His special season picked up right where it left off in his first game back and it appears Doncic will continue to roll the way he was prior to that troublesome ankle injury.