A scoring prodigy and ballhandling whiz with a knack for dagger three-pointers, Mavs All-Star Luka Doncic is a man of many talents, though he does have one glaring blind spot. Turns out, the 23-year-old is awful with names, still making the same mistake of calling Mavs newcomer JaVale McGee “Joel” almost a week into training camp.
Red Sox legend David Ortiz was known to suffer the same affliction, with that trait actually serving as the basis for his nickname (the story goes that if Ortiz wasn’t sure of someone’s name, he’d merely call them “Papi”). We won’t give Doncic too much grief, seeing as English isn’t his first language, though, considering McGee signed with Dallas in mid-July, he’s had almost three months to learn his name. And while McGee has never been a “star” per se, it’s not like he’s someone fans wouldn't recognize, serving as a valuable role player on three championship teams.
Of course, isn’t that what training camp is for, a chance to dust off the cobwebs before the regular season, getting reacquainted with teammates and coaches after taking the summer off to unwind? An athletic seven-footer who loves to get out in transition, McGee has been on the receiving end of countless alley-oops throughout his career, making him an ideal lob partner for Doncic whenever they share the court together.
McGee, who previously played for Dallas from 2015-16, actually lost to the Mavericks in last year’s playoffs, contributing to the Suns’ second-round collapse with top-seeded Phoenix ultimately squandering a 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference semis. The plan is for McGee to start at center, though it wouldn’t be a surprise if Christian Wood, coming off a breakout year in Houston (17.9 points, career-high 10.1 rebounds per game), also factors into that equation.