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In defense of Luka Doncic’s fitness level

Some things are worth the weight.

Dallas Mavericks v San Antonio Spurs Photos by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Are you worried about Luka Doncic’s slow starts to every season, or are you just jealous that he can pick-and-roll himself into shape? Do you find yourself arguing with your friends about Luka’s fitness level? Should the Dallas Mavericks be concerned?

First of all, how dare you. Secondly, worrying about Luka’s fitness ignores a long tradition of elite athletes looking like they’re wildly unfit. Have you ever heard of Babe Ruth? One of the best baseball players of all time, yet he looked like there was never a cheeseburger he met he didn’t eat. And last year’s NBA MVP Nikola Jokic won’t be opening a Cross Fit gym anytime soon.

Keep in mind, former number one overall pick Kwame Brown was ripped. Former Maverick and number two overall pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist looks like he could compete in any Olympic sport he wanted. Neither have Luka’s skills.

Maybe Luka is just a slow starter. Russell Westbrook, for instance, has always gotten better as the season progresses. Westbrook has a true shooting percentage of .516 and averages in 22.2 points per game in November and December for his career. But once the calendar turns to January, his production increases. Westbrook has averaged 23.9 points per game on .537 TS% from January through March during his career.

Westbrook is hardly out of shape. But it still takes him some time to start playing his best basketball. Maybe Luka is the same.

Doncic has similar numbers, averaging 24.6 points in November and December, and 26.7 points from January to March. The only difference is his TS% is .580 during November and December, and .568 from January through March. That’s thanks to a scorching hot .592 TS% in November alone.

Regardless, it just takes Luka a little while to get going. We all wish that he’d show up to start the season in amazing shape and demolish the league from start to finish. Maybe that will happen one day. But until then we’ll have to be satisfied with thick Luka working the entire league while looking like the frat boy who spends way too much time at Applebee’s.

It takes some time for young NBA players to realize how important diet and conditioning are to their success on the court. Dirk Nowitzki is one of the best players of all time and lasted 20 years in the NBA, but he didn’t get serious about eating right and staying healthy until his late twenties. If you doubt that, Google “Dirk Nowitzki Steve Nash clubbing” and see what photos come up.

Think about Luka’s post ups. It probably helps to have a little heft there to help bully smaller guards in the paint. It also helps him when bigger players try to post him up, something that’s tough to do.

So don’t worry about Luka and his love for steak, pasta, and In-and-Out Burger. He carries the weight nicely, and it hasn’t stopped him from picking up All-NBA First team honors two years in a row. Whatever shape he’s in, it’s working.