NBA defenses have no clue what to do with Luka Doncic
David J. Phillip/AP
David J. Phillip/AP
- Luka Doncic is on a historic offensive streak, averaging 37 points, 8 rebounds, and 11 assists per game over his last four games.
- In his latest performance, Doncic consistently beat Houston Rockets defenders, getting to the basket for easy buckets or setting up open shots for teammates.
- Doncic will begin seeing increased defensive attention, and how the 20-year-old superstar handles it will be among the biggest tests in his early career.
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No player in the NBA is hotter than Luka Doncic at the moment.The 20-year-old Dallas Mavericks star is on a tear, averaging 37 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 11.8 assists per game while shooting 55% from the field and 44% from three over the last four games. He's two-tenths of an assist shy from averaging a 30-point triple-double per game for the entire season.Advertisement
Doncic's latest outburst came on Sunday, when he scored 41 points on 15-of-29 shooting, to go with 6 rebounds and 10 assists in a 137-123 win over the Houston Rockets.
What makes Doncic's run so incredible and so captivating is that defenses don't seem to have an answer for him. Doncic has shredded pre-draft concerns about his ability to create shots and score on bigger, faster, stronger opponents. He can get by opponents off the dribble, hit an array of shots in the paint, find teammates, or create room with his patented step-backs to hit deep shots. He's never rushed, giving him an on-court stability far beyond his years.On Sunday, the Rockets didn't exactly throw curveballs at Doncic, but no matter who was in front of him, Doncic found a way to beat them.
He cooked Austin Rivers:And James Harden:And Clint Capela, on a switch, for good measure:Advertisement
These aren't complex defensive schemes by the Rockets, but Doncic is beating defenders in isolations pretty easily.
Teams have mixed up the looks he has seen. In pick-and-rolls, the San Antonio Spurs dropped their big man back and encouraged guards to fight over the screen. The goal was likely to force Doncic into awkward in-between shots while keeping the roll man in front of them. Doncic expertly played it, poking his way into the lane until he could get the ball to his big man.Frankly, it's a little unclear what the Cleveland Cavaliers' defensive scheme was - but Doncic beat it.Advertisement
When Doncic takes to the post against smaller defenders, he attracts a crowd and makes the right read.
If Doncic does start seeing those defensive coverages, it will represent yet another achievement: just 88 games into his career, teams are game-planning for him in similar ways as one of the greatest scorers of all-time. Of course, Doncic warrants it. His start to the second season is as good as any in NBA history. If he can keep it up against increasingly intense defenses, it will be one of the first major tests of his career.
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