(REUTERS) – The Sacramento Kings may have gotten the win against the Dallas Mavericks on Sunday (Dec 16), but Kings coach Dave Joerger was singing the praises of an opposing player.
Specifically, Mavericks rookie Luka Doncic.
Before the Kings’ 120-113 road victory over the Mavs, Joerger told the media that as good as Doncic is now, he has plenty of room for improvement.
“He’s got a lot of different skills, and I think he’s going to become a heck of a shooter,” Joerger reportedly said before the game. “And when that happens, it’s going to make him quicker. He’s got good ballhandling and he knows how to play.
“Perhaps there was an idea that there was a ceiling on him. I don’t see it, unfortunately for us. But he’s great for them and he’s great for our league.”
The comments are particularly noteworthy for a couple of reasons.
First, the Kings actually had a chance to draft Doncic, but took Duke standout Marvin Bagley III with the second pick instead. Atlanta drafted Doncic with the very next pick, then traded him to Dallas for rookie Trae Young and a protected 2019 first-round pick.
Second, Joerger has reportedly been at odds with the Kings’ front office over the team’s direction and philosophy. Nonetheless, the Kings are now 16-13 and occupy the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings.
The Mavericks fell to 15-13 and sit a half-game behind Memphis, Portland and the Kings.
Doncic entered the game averaging 17.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 4.5 assists in 26 games, all starts. He finished with 28 points, six rebounds and nine assists to lead Dallas in scoring against the Kings. The 19-year-old is among the leading contenders for Rookie of the Year.
Bagley averages 12.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.0 block over 26 games, all off the bench. He is expected to miss 10-14 days with a bone bruise in his left knee. He did not play on Sunday.
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