'Pravi MVP': In any language, Mavs think Doncic is the NBA's best player

Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) grabs a loose ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Miami. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)

MIAMI (AP) — The Dallas Mavericks had a message on Wednesday night: “Pravi MVP.”

Translated, that means Real MVP. And because it was coming from the Mavs, it was also pretty easy to figure out what the message on the T-shirts that players, coaches and staff wore before the game against the Miami Heat was.

Admittedly biased, Mavs coach Jason Kidd said he thinks Luka Doncic should be the NBA's MVP this season — and had a blunt answer for why the 25-year-old Slovenian star isn't considered the frontrunner for the award.

“Game's too simple, too easy,” said Kidd, who was a close second in the 2001-02 MVP voting to Tim Duncan. “He makes it look too easy. Unfortunately, that's what happens with some of the greats ... we take for granted their talent.”

Doncic will surely be one of the MVP selections on many — if not all — of the 100 award ballots that will be cast early next week by a panel of reporters and broadcasters who cover the league. Voters rank their top five candidates for MVP, and it's generally expected that Denver's Nikola Jokic will win the award for the third time in the last four years.

If this isn't the year for Doncic to win the MVP, it'll be soon, Dallas teammate Kyrie Irving said.

“He’s mastered different nuances of the game and he’s continuing to explore his abilities and his talents," Irving said. "And it’s beautiful to be a part of. So, you know, the shirts mean a lot to us to represent him. But I think the most important thing he wants to do is win. And he’s always put that first.”

Barring something statistically incredible, Doncic will win his first scoring title when the regular season draws to a close on Sunday. With two games left, Doncic is averaging 33.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 9.8 assists. No player in NBA history has ever finished a season with such averages in all three of those categories. And on top of all that, he led a 50-win team that won the Southwest Division.

“He's the real MVP. ... I think his resume is better than anybody else's resume,” Mavs forward P.J. Washington said. “I don't feel like there's a complete argument that anybody had a better season this year.”

Doncic is a lock to be first-team All-NBA for the fifth time in his six Dallas seasons, and his 284 3-pointers this season is second in the league behind only Golden State's Stephen Curry.

“He's only 25,” Kidd said, “but he's playing the game like no one else.”