Dallas Mavericks hot take: Luka’s defensive woes are overblown
By Kohl Rast
When Luka Doncic was drafted by the Dallas Mavericks, everyone told us that he was going to struggle defensively because of his limited athleticism. Although he may struggle a little, his basketball instincts are really strong.
The sky really is the limit for Dallas Mavericks rookie, Luka Doncic. When the 2018 NBA Draft was nearing, everyone knew that Luka was one of the guys to watch. Viewed as perhaps the best international prospect in NBA history, Doncic was coming off a historic season in the EuroLeague where he won the MVP award at only 19 years old.
By the time the NBA Draft was underway, a lot of teams had convinced themselves that Luka wasn’t worth the gamble, primarily because of defensive concerns. The Phoenix Suns selecting first picked Deandre Ayton, a big man that was no joke in college and considered one of the best big men available in years. He has proven to be a solid pick so far.
Next came the Sacramento Kings who, of course, went with yet another big man. This time it was Marvin Bagley III from Duke, a solid big man during his time in college. He has done pretty good so far.
The Atlanta Hawks were not sold on Luka yet either. They knew he was the next logical pick, but they had decided early on that Trae Young was their guy. Knowing they would be able to get Young a few picks later, they put theirs on the market for anyone wanting Luka. I assume plenty of teams came calling. The Mavs ended up having the best offer and got their guy.
Within a few games it was clear that Dallas made a great decision. Not only has Luka shot the ball incredibly well, he has been impressive passing and rebounding the ball as well. And the real surprise has been that his defense is nowhere near as bad as it was billed. In fact, I believe he is going to be a pretty decent defender.
Luka doesn’t stop the other guys with his athleticism. It would be nice if that were the case, but in the entire spectrum of NBA players, he is definitely in the lower half for athleticism. The reason Luka has been successful with his defense so far this season is simply because he knows what to do and when to do it.
For those of you reading, you’re probably wondering if I have been watching him in some of the games where he has been taken advantage of. That is going to happen sometimes. Luka isn’t going to be a superb man-to-man defender because that isn’t the style he plays. He prefers to jump passing lanes, help on someone not paying attention and step into some charges.
And the best part is, Luka is just going to get better. After a few years of working out in an NBA weight room and figuring out some of the guys he plays against, his defensive skills are undoubtedly going to improve. Get ready for some great two-way basketball from the youngster.
The Dallas Mavericks really lucked out with this young kid. Luka is going to be an excellent NBA player for years to come and that great play will be available on both ends of the court. Just wait and see.