Despite a Hard-Fought First Round Exit, Luka Doncic is Here to Stay
There are 3.7 seconds remaining on the clock and the Los Angeles Clippers have just used their final team foul in the last two minutes.
The Clippers are up one point and are vying to take a commanding 3-1 series lead.
The Dallas Mavericks call a time out and everyone inside of the arena know full well who the play is being drawn up for. There is only one person who will get the ball in this very moment.
Rick Carlisle is drawing up a play for a 21-year old kid.
He is just 21-years old. A sophomore playing in his first ever playoff series, but a kid who’s experience far outweighs his years for he has been playing professional basketball overseas for nearly half a decade prior to arriving to the NBA. And on this day, with just 3.7 seconds, this kid had 40 points, 13 assists, and 17 rebounds while playing on a sprained ankle, being defended by two of the best wing defenders in the entire world.
The ball is inbounded.
Luka Doncic uses a cross over dribble to create some separation from Reggie Jackson and puts up the prayer as the clock approached zero.
Luka Magic has done it! The Dallas Mavericks have won! The Dallas Mavericks have come all the way back to take Game 4 and even this best of seven first round series!
Luka has done it!
LUKA CALLED GAME pic.twitter.com/g7URYgcAoE
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) August 23, 2020
“He sees the game in 6G,” Mavericks Coach Carlisle said following the Game 4 victory. “It’s not 5G. It’s 6G, another level beyond what most people see it. Just a very, very special player. This game today was from another planet.”
At only 21 years of age, Doncic sees the game differently.
He is young, with the savvy of a 10-year veteran. He has incredible feel for the game, the ability to slow the game down and make the right play more often than not. For many young players entering the league, it takes time for them to get a feel for the NBA game, but for Doncic, the game continues to come easy.
He floats on the court.
With each Euro-step. With every crossover step-back.
In his second career season, Doncic averaged 28.8 points, 8.8 assists, and 9.4 rebounds per game. In his first playoff appearance, he bumped those numbers up a notch to 31 points, 8.7 assists, and 9.8 rebounds per game, while shooting 50-percent from the field and a respectable 36.4-percent from beyond the three point line.
His game is by no means perfect, but there remains room for growth, and considering how good Doncic already is – his potential is simply scary.
No, he may never be an above average defender. He isn’t necessarily what you would consider athletic or explosive, but he is crafty and always ten steps ahead of his opponent. His shot selection will continue to improve as he continues to mature and with that, his shooting percentage, especially from the perimeter will improve as well. As he continues to play against NBA defenses, he will continue to learn to make better decisions with the basketball – being more selective of when he chooses to run an ISO, or when it is better suited for him to kick the ball out to a shooter.
The Mavericks had one of the more efficient and explosive offences in NBA history and that should not change any time soon.
What this means is Doncic will always have options in shooters and in a analytically driven Dallas Mavericks offence under one of the best coaches in league history in Carlisle, Doncic will have the pieces around him with which he can succeed and continue to elevate his game. If fellow co-star Kristaps Porzingis can just remain healthy and put his string of lower body injuries behind him, the Mavericks will be positioned for success for many years to come.
The Mavericks took a very positive step in the right direction this season. With Doncic at the core of a very forward thinking franchise, it’s only a matter of time before the Mavs are competing for a championship again and Doncic is a perennial MVP candidate.