Luka Doncic has dominated for the Dallas Mavericks for the past four years. He’s won Rookie of the Year, been selected to three All-Star games, and named to the All-NBA 1st team for three consecutive years. That success translated to the postseason, as Doncic dragged the Mavericks to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in a decade.
Despite all the accolades and numbers, it’s easy for casual fans to dismiss Doncic’s play because it’s fairly ground-bound. He’s not exactly jumping through the rafters or putting guys on posters. But a recent video from Half Court Hoops shows that there’s more than one type of athleticism.
Doncic’s ability to decelerate is just as incredible as any elite NBA athlete’s skillset. Giannis Antetokounmpo being able to cover the entire court in three or four steps is amazing and easy to see. But Doncic being able to stop on a dime is just as impressive.
Part of what makes watching Doncic fun is seeing how he’s able to manipulate defenses with subtle moves and hesitations. He’s always able to find an angle and seems to see three steps ahead of most defenders. I’ve written about Luka pivoting DeAndre Ayton into purgatory, and also about him using a foot jab to change a defender’s top foot (Ayton again). Along with Jalen Brunson and his bag of tricks, Doncic made the Mavericks backcourt one of the craftiest in the NBA.
It won’t be long until we get to see Doncic in year five of his NBA career. He’ll probably have a couple new moves to get open shots for himself and his teammates. Until then, we’ll have to make due with great breakdowns like the one above.