How Luka’s commitment has made the Dallas Mavericks a top 5 defense
Last season, the Mavs had the most efficient offense in NBA history, but still had trouble down the stretch in close games. They were the definition of the age-old cliche, “Live by the three, die by the three”. If the shots were not falling, it was clear the Mavericks would get down on themselves, and they had no other avenue to win the game.
So far to start this year, things have changed, and it all starts with Luka Doncic. As the team’s best player, the Mavericks will only go as far as Luka takes them. Doncic has set a tone and embraced winning with defense.
Luka had this to say about the 2020-2021 season on the first day of training camp.
"“Every year, I want to be better. That’s the goal. You know, for me, like I always say, I want to win the championship. That’s the goal we entered last year, that’s the goal we’re going to enter this year as a whole group."
Luka stayed true to his word. Through 11 games, he has shown tremendous defensive improvement. Not every player has the tools and body to be an elite defender, but playing with sustained effort can make almost anyone average on that end of the floor.
Last season, Luka got caught ball watching or walking back on defense often. This year, the 21-year-old superstar decided that he would not be the reason the team suffered defensively.
Through 11 games, Luka is averaging 8.7 defensive rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 0.9 blocks per game. Doncic had 14 blocks total during the 2019-2020 season. His advanced metrics have improved dramatically, including sitting ninth in the NBA in defensive box score plus/minus.
Dallas Mavericks fans know that Luka Doncic may never be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, but his commitment to keeping people in front of him and getting his hands in the passing lanes is setting the tone for the rest of the team.