Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball

What I’m Watching: Luka Versus Trae

It isn't a debate, but it will be fun to see. Plus: a sneaky college football game -- OK, player -- to watch on Saturday.

The Cowboys are idle this week [Ed: thank you for the correct usage, Mike, because “bye week” is not the right term; the team isn’t advancing in a tournament], which is probably for the best as Dallas collectively exhales from yesterday’s overtime win at New England.

But the Stars certainly aren’t idle, and neither are the Mavs, who tip off Thursday. Here’s what I’m watching this week:


Thursday 10/21: Mavericks at Hawks6:30 p.m., TNT

Luka Doncic begins his fourth NBA season by squaring off against Trae Young, the player he was traded for on draft night (along with a future first-round pick that became Hawks forward Cam Reddish) and, thus, will endlessly be compared to.

Which isn’t particularly fair to Young; it isn’t close, it hasn’t been close, and barring injury, it’s difficult to project a scenario in which it will ever be particularly close. Young will go down as one of the great players of his era; Luka will go down as one of the great players in history.

Still, both are among the game’s most exciting players, which ought to make this a spectacularly fun way to kick off Jason Kidd’s tenure.

Friday 10/22: Kings versus Stars7:30 p.m., Bally Sports Southwest

I wrote Friday about how Miro Heiskanen’s road to the Norris Trophy, which is given to the game’s best defenseman, is officially underway. He’ll be looking to join a class at his position that includes Drew Doughty, the 2016 winner. At 31, there’s time yet for him to recapture his form from the back half of the last decade, when he made five straight All-Star games, from 2015 through 2019, and reigned as perhaps the game’s best all-around defender. But even diminished, he carries the reputation Heiskanen is hoping to earn for himself — and can continue to cement if he slows down Kings captain Anze Kopitar, whose seven points lead in the NHL thus far (and rank one ahead of Doughty himself).

Saturday 10/23: Liberty at North Texas3:00 p.m., ESPN+

I’m not tuning in to watch UNT, who are bad and almost certainly will remain bad in what figures to be the waning days of the Seth Littrell era, which has seen the Mean Green plummet to 9-19 since the start of the 2019 campaign, after going a combined 18-9 in the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

No, I’m here to see Malik Willis, Liberty’s livewire quarterback, who is trending toward a spot in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

Why? Because of stuff like this:

This game could get ugly in a hurry, but if you take the time to watch a quarter, you’ll probably see at least one spectacular moment.

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