Three-time All-Star, Three-time All-NBA, only 23 years old, what makes Luka Doncic so special? Winning EuroLeague MVP as a teenager? Already having the 10th most triple-doubles of all time? Bouncing the top seed in a historically dominant Game 7 and embarrassing one of the most talented backcourts the league has ever seen? Being second all-time in playoff points per game, trailing only the GOAT himself?
The accolades have been there and always will be there for the basketball prodigy, but his confidence and belief in himself is what puts Luka Doncic in a category next to LeBron, Steph, and the league's greatest.
Doncic has never feared the moment. He said it himself “I’d say it’s a mental thing. It’s a lot about confidence.” And boy would it be an understatement to say his confidence is noticeable on the court. Racking up buzzer-beater after buzzer-beater and what seems to be a historic amount of game-winning shots in his first four seasons in the league.
Is Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic the future GOAT?
Although it feels surprising that such a young player would look so poised and mature on the court, it should be no surprise as Doncic already has seven years of pro basketball under his belt, playing three years for Real Madrid before entering the NBA draft.
Luka has more than proven that he has the mental capacity to be the greatest, but how can the European point guard put himself in a category with LeBron and Jordan? In a league where speed, strength, and athleticism have proven to be supreme, Luka is still finding ways to dominate.
Doncic’s foundation and the primary key to his basketball aptitude are his elite IQ and vision. If any sports fan has watched more than two minutes of Luka play, they will immediately notice his decision-making expertise. From turning Dwight Powell into an elite roll man or elevating Dorian Finney Smith and Maxi Kleber to high-level 3-and-D wings, Luka’s high basketball IQ and exceptional playmaking elevate his teammates.
Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, LeBron James. What do they have in common? Other than being three of the ten best players to ever touch a basketball, they have an unnatural, innate ability to handle the ball. Their size and hand-eye coordination are what gave them the capability to become the greatest ever.
And these are the same qualities that 23-year-old Luka Doncic possesses. In terms of hand-eye coordination, he was gifted with some of the greatest the league has ever seen. Game after game and play after play, Luka leaves fans in awe with jaw-dropping passes and an inexplicable ability to handle the ball. Just another aspect of the young Slovenian game that gives him GOAT potential.
Luka’s confidence, IQ, and coordination are all extremely evident to a basketball fan, but his most powerful, yet subtle ability, is how he controls the pace of a game. It’s no coincidence that Doncic-led teams have consistently had the slowest pace in the league or at least finished in the bottom five, year after year.
In today's NBA, this slow pace could easily be seen as a negative attribute when players like LeBron James, Giannis Antentokounmpo, and Ja Morant are constantly pushing the pace and dominating while doing so. Yet over in Dallas, Luka is doing the exact opposite, while getting the exact results every team wants.
Luka’s ability to control and change pace in isolation situations leaves defenders hopeless, while he has the ability to blow right by a big, take a small guard to the post, or hit a step back in any defender's mouth. Meanwhile, Luka is more than capable of using his leverage to kick the ball to a wide-open shooter in the corner.
26 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists per game are unheard of career numbers, but so much goes into Luka’s capability to consistently leave crowds stunned. Four years under his belt and over a decade more to come, Luka Doncic is unquestionably the next best candidate to become the GOAT.