Breaking down Luka Doncic’s rise, impact on the Dallas Mavericks, and a potential MVP season

As of this post, Luka Doncic is third in the league in points (30.1), second to only LeBron Games in assists per game (9.5) with 48.5 FG% as well as pulling in 10 rebounds per game. Those kinds of numbers speak for themselves and considering he is just 20, it is safe to say we are yet to see the best of Doncic.

Doncic’s great start all began with 34 points vs Washington Wizards in the Mav’s season opener.  Since hen he was able to improve his season-high vs Golden State Warriors (35), New York Knicks (38) and San Antonio Spurs (42).

In November he been able to record back-to-back 35-point-triple-double making him, in the progress, the youngest player to do so. No wonder Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle praised him by saying: “Look, he’s a very special player on a special roll”.

Shoot First Point Guard

With that said, let’s try to figure out why Luka Doncic is so lethal and what separates him from the rest. On one of the “Open Court” episodes, Isiah Thomas has said that point guard has to have shoot-first mentality. The reason for that is because if you do otherwise and think pass-first then your defenders can (and will) sag and try to cut passing lane for the potential receiver of the ball. Luka doesn’t have this problem. This is a problem that have faced pass-first, second, and third players such as Jason Kidd and Ben Simmons.

Luka has almost always thought about scoring first and that opens up his passing. Keeping in mind that one of his signature moves is step back it is pretty much a safe to say that all scouting reports for the opposition defender have a note saying, “don’t leave an inch of space for ’77”.

Yet another weapon in Luka’s offensive arsenal is a floater. A shot that was perfected by Tony Parker and nowadays is considered a must for an All-Star calibre player. On average Doncic is attempting 8.8 shots per game from less than 10 feet and converts 44% of them. Of course, not all of those are contested floaters but we get the picture.

The Modern Day Larry Bird?

Even though they played different positions and are from different eras, we think Doncic is as close to a Larry Bird comparison as we’ve ever seen. He’s crafty, a gifted shooter and passer, and does it all with relatively below-average athleticism. This makes Doncic one of those rare superstars that make his teammates better.

With laser cross-court passes, alley-oops in transition, flashy no looks after getting double-teamed. You name it. To back it up with facts lets take a look at his numbers. From players who attempt to score more than 1 time per game after Slovenian’s wunderkinds’ pass only Porzingis has a FG% of less than 40 (6.5 FGA and 2.2 FGM).

Overall, his teammates attempt on average 23.8 shots per game once receiving the ball from Luka and convert 10.8 of them, thus resulting in 45% FG ration. Knowing, that Latvian Unicorn (Kristaps Porzingis) is yet to bring his A+ game to the table after returning from knee injury those numbers should only improve in the long run.

Having said all that, there’s an Achilles heel in Doncic’s game and that is his defense. Versus Luka his opponents attempt on average 10.3 shots per game and convert 4.9 of those. Thus, resulting in 47.4 FG%.

One of the best ways to limit opponents’ best player offensive efficiency is to make him work on the defensive end, this is another similarity that he has with Bird. Luka’s defense will always be his achille’s heel. The closer we get to the regular season’s end and into the NBA Playoffs the more often this tactic will be utilized against Dallas.

However, some Luka stans might argue that he collects 10 rebounds per game but only 2.4 of those are contested ones, meaning that 7.6 are uncontested. And since his teammates know that media is an important part of nowadays game they would gladly let Luka gather a ball which might result in yet another triple-double for their star player rather than grabbing ball themselves.

Luka Doncic is a Legitimate 2020 MVP Candidate

After the departure of Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas was in need of new sheriff and Luka walked into town with a badged. He gave us glimpses of what was yet to come during his rookie year, but this year is different; he’s moved his game from a potential all-star level to legitimately into the top tier of the league.

It is different because at just 20 he is the face of the franchise with the full support of coaching staff, team and fans. In other words, Doncic has all the conditions to succeed in a big way and some online bookmakers, like BetAmerica, believe he can be among the long shots for NBA MVP 2020.

Will he deliver or fall short? It’ll depend if Doncic can keep up the pace and the Mavs continue to surprise. We’ll see if Doncic can be a MVP as the season develops and teams focus in on Doncic’s tendencies in their scouting reports. That said, he’s only 20, so if the MVP and championship isn’t in the cards this season, we’ve got another dozen or so years of Doncic development and domination.

 

 

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