Just can't get enough of Doncic, Simmons

Luka Doncic and Ben Simmons are among the brightest young prospects in the NBA.

Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic playing for Team World in the NBA Rising Stars match.   -  AFP

At the NBA Rising Stars media session held here, two players – Luka Doncic and Ben Simmons – attracted the most attention. Journalists, and basketball fans, could not get enough of the dynamic duo.

Doncic and Simmons are among the brightest young prospects in the league. Doncic is enjoying a spectacular rookie season with the Dallas Mavericks, raising the team’s profile with his presence. Earlier this month, the 19-year-old Doncic became the youngest player to record three NBA triple-doubles, edging out Los Angeles Lakers legend Magic Johnson by 117 days.

A couple of days ago, three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade reserved the highest praise for Doncic, when he said that the Slovenia international possesses “LeBron James-like” passing abilities. Asked about his meteoric rise to the top, Doncic said, “I didn’t expect all this success to come this quickly. I’m surprised, to be honest. There is a bit of pressure and pleasure that comes with this success. I’m trying to enjoy myself.”

In one way, Doncic is following in the footsteps of Simmons. While Doncic is currently the favourite to claim the ‘Rookie of the Year’ award, Simmons won that same title in the previous season. The Australian bounced back superbly from a terrible start to his NBA career, when he missed the entire 2016-17 season due to an injury. On Sunday, Simmons will become the first ever Australian to feature in an All-Star game.

Simmons won the 'Rookie of the Year' award in the NBA 2017-18 season. PHOTO: AFP



Simmons was known to be a good rugby player in his teenage years, but he said that he had other sporting interests as well. “I’ve played cricket. I didn’t play at a high level though - I don’t think I’ve ever seen a 6' 10" cricketer,” Simmons said.

Simmons and Doncic competed for the World team which took on USA in the Rising Stars Challenge on Friday. Simmons (28 points, 6 assists) and Doncic (13 points, 9 assists) did well, but it was not enough to stop USA from posting a 161-144 victory in the exhibition match.
"There wasn't much defense being played. It's not a serious thing; it's just more of a fun thing. It felt good to run the court with guys that you don't usually play with," Simmons said.