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Tim MacMahon on how Luka Doncic built his isolation game

MacMahon reports on Doncic’s lethal isolation game.

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

“He’s always in his comfort zone.”

That’s what Dallas Mavericks assistant coach God Shammgod told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon about Luka Doncic’s isolation game. MacMahon wrote a stellar piece breaking down all the different moves in Doncic’s bag, and how he developed them over the course of his short career.

MacMahon talks about Doncic’s step-back 3-pointers and how they’re so essential to everything else he does. “That step-back is just natural,” Jason Kidd tells MacMahon. “That’s part of the fabric of who he is, because it can set up so many other things.”

Almost every Mavericks fan has been frustrated by those Doncic step-back threes at some point or another, but they’d also agree with Kidd’s sentiment. Those step-back 3-pointers make everything else Doncic does possible.

MacMahon moves on to Doncic’s fadeaway jumper, or the “Baby Dirk.” It’s easy to picture Doncic practicing with Dirk Nowitzki during his rookie year, watching Nowitzki’s signature move for an entire year and then making it his own. It’s what all the basketball greats do. And who better for Doncic to craft a move after?

The article has more great quotes from Kidd and Shammgod talking about the way Doncic uses his footwork and always seems to find the perfect angle to get to the basket. I’ve written about Doncic using creative footwork to gain room for a drive to basket, and his outstanding pivot work, so this kind of thing is right up my alley. It’s always fun to hear people talk about basketball as a craft, and MacMahon’s piece is full of that.