Mavericks need Luka Doncic to be a great player, but lack of preseason play could make for rough start

Fox Sports commentator Mark Followill joined the Dennis and Cowlishaw show on 103.3 ESPN FM to talk about Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Here are some highlights, edited for clarity.

What are reasonable expectations for Luka Doncic as a rookie?

Mark Followill: “There are a lot of people who think he can be a great player, not just a very good player. They need him to be more than a very good player. They need him to be a great player. Whenever you jump up, trade a first-round pick and you have someone at three and you’re trying to rebuild your franchise, they need to hit on a great player here. As far as what I’m thinking this year, I always urge to the side of managing expectations when it comes to rookies. He’s going to make a transition from playing in Europe to playing at the NBA level. I’m not a huge fan of summer league. It’s not very good basketball, but it would be nice to see him out there. I guess he’s only maybe going to play, I heard Rick Carlisle mention a game or two tops is what we’re looking at. I wish he had the chance to get out there a little more and get whatever taste summer league gives you of NBA basketball. Even though I think it’s light years away from it, at least it’s something. Then they’re going to have a pretty short preseason in terms of actual game opportunities because they’re not playing many preseason games here and they have that trip to China. Those are not exactly things that are going to allow Doncic to put his best foot forward in terms of getting his feet wet before he reaches the real games of the regular season.

“Maybe that won’t hinder his development. It’s hard for me not to think that’s at least going to be something that might cause him to come out of the gates a little bit slowly. In my opinion, anytime you’re dealing with a rookie, even when it’s a highly selected rookie with all the hype Doncic has coming from Real Madrid — which is the 31st best team in the world — I still think you have to manage your expectations in his first year and hope by the end of the season he doesn’t look like a rookie anymore.”