Whenever the Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks play — they meet for the first time this season in Dallas on Wednesday — the discussion always turns to the team’s star players and their connection to one another.

It goes back to 2018, when Atlanta drafted Luka Doncic with the third overall pick and moments later traded him to the Dallas Mavericks for the No. 5 draft pick that turned out to be Trae Young. Since then, the debate inevitably focuses on who got the better end of the deal.

In fact, both players have had great starts to their careers and are in the midst of All-Star seasons.

Doncic, averaging 33.8 points, nine rebounds and 8.8 assists, did not play on Sunday when the Mavericks were beaten 140-123 by Portland. He had a season-low 15 points in 35 minutes on Saturday and was given a day off for the fifth time this season — all second games of back-to-backs.

Young is averaging 27.4 points and 9.8 assists. He had 24 points, eight rebounds and 10 turnovers in Monday’s 121-113 win over Miami.

In six career games against Atlanta, Doncic is averaging 22.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.3 assists. In eight career games against Dallas, Young is averaging 20 points, 3.9 rebounds and 9.4 assists.

Their respective teams are in different situations.

Dallas is working through some injuries and has lost four of its last five games, all of them on the road, including back-to-back losses in Portland. The Mavericks are currently No. 5 in the Western Conference.

Christian Wood averages 18.3 points and 8.4 rebounds for Dallas, but he is dealing with a right ankle sprain that caused him to miss a game. Spencer Dinwiddie averages 16.6 points and former Hawk Tim Hardaway Jr. averages 14 points but is still feeling the effects of a left ankle sprain. Dallas is already missing Josh Green (right elbow sprain), Dorian Finney-Smith (right adductor strain) and Maxi Kleber (right hamstring tear).

“Hopefully, we do get healthy soon,” Dallas coach Jason Kidd said. “Until then, we have to play with the guys who are in uniform.”

Atlanta has won three in a row and is back at the .500 mark for the first time since Dec. 27. With the return of Clint Capela, who missed 10 games with a right thigh injury, the Hawks finally have their entire roster intact. Capela had 12 points and six rebounds in his return.

“Definitely going to build on this,” Capela said. “We just have to keep building on this and playing the game the right way, which is going to give us a chance to stack up.”

In the last two games, the Hawks have seen the results they expected after acquiring Dejounte Murray in the offseason. Murray and Young have both scored 20-plus points in each of the last two games. Murray averages 20.4 points and 6.1 assists.

The Hawks also get 15.6 points apiece from Bogdan Bogdanovic and De’Andre Hunter, as well as 13.1 points and 7.8 rebounds from John Collins.

“We just have to be consistent,” Murray said. “That’s the main thing for the rest of the year.”

The teams split the two games last season and the Mavs have won the last four meetings in Dallas.

–Field Level Media