Every year, the NBA's Most Valuable Player has at least one "MVP moment."
Typically, it comes later in the season when their campaign is solidified and things are a bit more fleshed out, but who's to say there can't be an "MVP moment" in the first quarter of the season?
The circumstances are already unique enough in this particular situation - a 20-year-old phenom is taking the NBA by storm, shocking the masses every single night he takes the floor while doing things the league has never seen by a player of his age.
Luka Doncic is nearly averaging a triple-double. He has seven triple-doubles in the first 16 games of the season and he has his Dallas Mavericks looking like a legitimate playoff team in a brutal Western Conference loaded with talented teams. He's already making history - he joined LeBron James as the only 20-year-olds to notch a 40-point triple-double and recorded the fastest 30-point triple-double (25 minutes played) in NBA history.
Everything he's doing defies what we've come to know about young players making a significant impact of this magnitude in the NBA. In this early season marquee matchup with the LA Clippers, Doncic has a unique opportunity to have his first real MVP moment with all eyes on him.
But we'll get to the significance of the matchup in a few. For now, let's look at what Doncic has done so far this season.
Yes, it's only 16 games in, a small sample size that doesn't even equal up to a quarter of the 82-game grind that is the NBA regular season. But you have to start somewhere in an MVP campaign and the Slovenian star is off on the right foot.
Take a look at how Doncic's first 16 games stack up against the last five NBA MVPs through the same number of games...
He's scoring, assisting and rebounding at roughly the same rate as the best in each category. His efficiency is equal to these MVP-calibre players and Dallas is performing ahead of schedule thanks to Doncic's play early on.
If you're in the group of the naysayers that need more proof against tougher competition, he just lit up the Houston Rockets for 41 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in a win. He now has a golden opportunity to punish two of the best defenders in the NBA in his matchup against Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers.
The Mavericks have won five games in a row. The Clippers have won five games in a row.
With Paul George and Kawhi Leonard both in action, LA is a perfect 3-0.
What better opportunity can you have to further your early season MVP case than leading your team to a win while being guarded by a player who finished top-three in both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year last season and last year's Finals MVP?
George and Leonard are two of the NBA's best defenders and you can guarantee that Doncic will be guarded by one or the other for the majority of the game.
According to NBA Stats, in 69.4 partial possessions that George guarded Doncic last season, Luka scored 20 points on 7-for-19 (36.8%) shooting from the field with 11 assists and five turnovers. In 24.0 partial possessions that Leonard guarded Doncic, the 20-year-old was much more efficient, scoring 12 points on 5-for-6 (83.3%) shooting with five assists and just one turnover.
If Luka can continue to work his magic and snap the surging Clippers' five-game winning streak, that would be his marquee "MVP moment" so far this season.
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