• Justin Quinn

Mexico City Matchup Preview: Dwayne Casey Praises Luka Doncic

Associated Press

In the first season in NBA history where the reigning NBA Champion is not based in a U.S. city, Mexico City will host multiple regular-season games this December.

Just the fourth season this emerging NBA mega-market of 30 million souls has had the chance to sample a plurality of matches that will actually impact the playoff race, the duo of tilts will pit the Phoenix Suns against the San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Mavericks against the Detroit Pistons.

The latter event bears the mark of the international element of the league from the biggest star on either team, Dallas MVP candidate Luka Doncic, to the emergent baby-faced assassin Sekou Doumbouya of the Pistons, just returned from a developmental stint in the G League.

While absolutely the biggest spectacle of North American sports to set up temporary shop south of the border, no participants will treat the games lightly, particularly Detroit, who will have to hold off the seemingly-unstoppable Doncic to win.

No easy task as the Slovenian wunderkind is one of the youngest players in league history to have a serious shot at taking home MVP honors, and his opponents have wised up to what they are in for.

During a recent conference call ahead of the games, Pistons star center Andre Drummond had plenty to say about his soon-to-be foe.

"The way he's bringing that team together -- he's distributing the ball offensively, he's really really fun to watch but I will not be a fan of him [when] we're playing against them Mexico City," offered the Uconn product.

In fact, that deft ability to find his mark no matter the angle or coverage elicited an explanation that makes evident the apprehension head coach Dwayne Casey shares about the youthful Serbian point guard.

"[Luka] is a problem ... that young man is as talented as any player in the NBA as far as with the ball. The way he can create plays for others when he passes the ball -- you know I was around when Larry Bird was kind of going [on] his last leg in the NBA, and John Stockton. Some of the great passers in the league, [like] Magic Johnson, he's right in that that category as far as passing the ball .

"Now, he hasn't accomplished as much as those guys have yet -- but you know he is one of our stars in our league ... we just got to figure out a way to slow him down some way somehow because he is such a dynamic player," added the 2018 NBA Coach of the Year.

Lofty praise coming from the likes of Casey, who has indeed seen a few games in his decade-and-a-half of coaching in the league.

As the game becomes more global, and its stars and fans as well, the scene soon to unfold in Mexico's capital city might become a regular one, should rumbles of an expansion franchise ever come to fruition.

The dazzling passing artistry of Dallas' Doncic, however, is every bit the spectacle Casey suggests, and might just be worth the trip to the federal district alone.

That is, of course, if you're into basketball.

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