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Gregg Popovich praises Luka Doncic as ‘Magic Johnson-like’

Luka Doncic showed little signs of rust in his return to the court Thursday night following a nearly two-week layoff due to an ankle injury. The Dallas Mavericks superstar was sensational, nearly notching a triple-double in a 102-98 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.

Following Doncic’s 24-point, 10-rebound and eight-assist performance, Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich had some pretty high praise for the 20-year-old.

While Pop stopped short of calling Doncic a Magic Johnson clone, the longtime head coach said the young forward is doing things on the court similar to what the Lakers legend did during his Hall of Fame career.

“I hate to say this: He’s not Magic Johnson, but it’s Magic Johnson-like in the sense that he sees the floor in that same way,” Popovich said after the game, per ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “He’s got a real intuitive sense, and you can’t teach that. He’s just got it and he’s great at it. I’m not trying to put the Magic Johnson pressure on him — he’s not ready for that yet — but he’s doing a hell of a job.”

The frequently curmudgeonly Popovich isn’t one to casually hand out accolades without good reason, so the iconic coach’s remarks about Doncic of course carry a lot of weight. It’s not like Pop is the only coach, player or front office executive who has been left amazed over what the Mavs phenom is accomplishing at such a young age, either, amid his meteoric rise to superstardom.

What’s more, Doncic is showing no signs of a potential sophomore slump slide in his second NBA season. Coming off earning Rookie of the Year honors last season, Doncic’s outstanding play thus far has deservedly put him in the mix in the burgeoning MVP debate.