The Mavericks-Pelicans OT Thriller Gave Us a Glimpse into the Future

Welcome to the next decade of the Western Conference. Luka vs Zion. Pelicans vs Mavericks in close games that have you on the edge of your seat. There is a good chance that we will be talking about these teams in classic playoff series thought the 2020 decade. Doncic, alongside Kristaps Porzingis appear to be the cornerstones for the Dallas Mavericks, while the Pelicans have a young core led by Williamson destined to make noise out West for the years to come. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s talk about the present day.

The first of many Luka-Zion battles

Last night’s game really did give us a taste of what could be with this matchup up of rising superstars. Doncic made the Mavericks history books as he posted 30 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, his 22nd career triple double, passing Jason Kidd for the team record. His running mate Porzingis also showed out with a game high 34 points on 50% shooting. This foreign duo checks all the boxes needed for a long run of dominance. Guard-big combo ✅ Athleticism and ability to shoot from the outside ✅ Both players young and under contract ✅

As for the Pelicans, the trio of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball is one I would build around in a hear beat.

Williamson is a dominate freak of nature. He can run the floor, post up, make one move and dunk on two defenders, and blow past just about anyone with his explosiveness and strength. While Williamson is the box office guy, and face of the franchise, he does not necessarily need the ball on every possession. This allows the natural fit with Ball and Ingram.

Ball is an architect with the basketball in his hand, getting easy baskets for everyone with his elite court vision. Just look at the amount of lobs Williamson gets a game from simply running the floor with Ball.

Ingram is an all star and an elite isolation scorer who can get you 27 points a night, like he did in last nights game. You can put the ball in his hands down the stretch of games when you need a basket and he can get it for you, especially if you are focused in on stooping Williamson.

And defensively this trio can cause havoc in the small ball league that we are in currently. The only thing the Pelicans have to do is keep these guys healthy and lock them in long term, which will be easier said than done considering New Orleans is not a “basketball town.”

Luka or Zion: Who are you taking for the next decade?

While there are multiple all star caliber players between the teams, the talking point will always be Luka vs Zion. Who will take the throne? Who is more box office? Which player would you build your team around?

Luka is a finesse player relying on his step back jump shot and ability to create his own look. While Williamson is unlike anything we have really seen before. He is a freak of nature, standing at 6’6″ and 285lbs, ability to jump threw the roof and glide through the air. Personally I don’t feel there is a wrong answer to any of those questions. Both players are in rarified air with their raw talent and feel for the game. They both are well one their way to being top five players in the league one day, but let’s argue.

A great player can only be as good as the team around them and the support. So it will come down to how the organizations build around them. A strong chain of power from owner to front office to head coach is necessary for the elevation of any player, but particularly the elite players. I have questions about the New Orleans Pelicans stability and structure long term. Where as the Mavericks from owner Mark Cuban who will do anything to win, to NBA champion coach Rick Carlisle, have the stability and structure in place to give me comfort in leaning Luka over Zion and Mavs over Pelicans.

There are less questions with Luka at this point in their careers. He has an elite jump shot in a 3pt heavy league. The ball is always in his hands to dictate the game in its toughest moments. And what can’t go unsaid is that he’s been a pro basketball player since he was 16. Zion was dunking on 5’3″ white kids in an empty gym at that age. The experience and over all skill is in Luka’s favor. Add in the organization and Porzingis as 2nd option, I like Luka over Zion for the next decade.

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