A Quarter Season Review of Luka Doncic
Writer: Jameson White
The 2018-19 NBA season has been rapidly churning along. As the quarter-season mark passed this last week, professional basketball is in full swing. A player who has picked up substantially in his national recognition as the season has gone along also happens to be a rookie. His name? Luka Doncic. His value has begun to go far past the stats, and here are a few things that have stood out as a new calendar year approaches.
1. Luka has a charisma that hasn’t been seen in a rookie since Lebron James.
Coming to the NBA as one of the most accomplished EuroLeague players of all-time, Luka Doncic has brought a confidence with him that is ill-seen among rookies. The way that he passes the ball and makes moves offensively shows an elite understanding of angles, timing, and precision that is needed to be successful in the NBA; however, he makes passes that are some of the fanciest in the league. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, the young Mavericks guard said “I just don’t like to do normal passing.” How often are those words heard from a rookie?
2. About the understanding of angles, timing, and precision…
As a teenage rookie who does not even turn 20 years old until February 28th, Doncic already possesses one of the best offensive games in the entire NBA. While he may not be one of the fastest or most athletic players in the league, he knows how and when to use his body on a consistent basis. Whether it is a few quick dribbles and a drive to the basket, near-perfect footwork in the post, a silky pull-up jumper, or a devastating step-back three-point shot, Luka has a diverse offensive arsenal that allows him to score from anywhere on the court. Moreover, to accompany this ability to shoot the basketball, he has an uncanny awareness of where his teammates will be to get them the most successful shots. His court vision is already up to par with some of the best playmakers in the game.
3. Luka’s defense needs some work.
Although the young Slovenian has a near-complete offensive game, his defense is by far what he struggles the most with. The lack of elite athleticism that he uses on offense hurts him significantly when trying to keep up with faster guards and wings. However, the way in which the Mavericks hide him on defense is brilliant. Head coach Rick Carlisle has been able to realize that he has enough above-average defenders to put Doncic on the opponent’s worst offensive player most of the time. With Luka’s 6’8” frame, he has the ability to guard the 1-4 on the court; it’s just a matter of time and work that can help improve this part of his game.
4. The Mavs are a fun team to watch.
Having a great mix of shooters and athletes to go along with this year’s #3 overall draft pick has proven to make for a fun, fast-paced offense that can beat teams in a multitude of ways. When the Mavericks aren’t running in transition, they have consistent offensive options such as Deandre Jordan’s rim-running prowess, Harrison Barnes and Wesley Matthews’ ability to catch-and-shoot threes, and Dennis Smith Jr’s athleticism to go along with an improved jumpshot; in other words, Luka has plenty of outlets to show off his passing and playmaking ability.
Through the Mavericks’ first 24 games, Luka Doncic is the early-season Rookie of the Year favorite. The last few years, the Mavericks have put out below-average teams that have made Dirk Nowitzki’s twilight years unfavorable. While Dennis Smith Jr’s rookie year in 2017-18 showed flashes of promise and high upside, Doncic has shown that his ceiling is in the echelons of transcendence. There is still a lot of season left to be played, but nonetheless, Luka has the Mavericks currently in the 8th seed in the Western Conference. These reasons help give Doncic a case that he is Nowitzki’s heir-apparent to being Dallas’ face of the franchise. After a few years of uncertainty, the Mavericks appear to have their guy. Halleluka.