Typically, after a lackluster Luka Doncic efficiency (like we noticed in Madison Sq. Backyard in opposition to the Knicks on Wednesday night time), I wish to rev up the ol’ YouTube machine and watch movie on the younger famous person earlier than he bought drafted by the Dallas Mavericks. You already know, the Actual Madrid and/or Slovenia stuff.
At that time in his basketball journey, Luka was a thin teenager wowing basketball followers throughout Europe. Now, he’s a perennial MVP candidate along with his eyes set on the most important prize in basketball: the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Numerous issues have modified over the previous few years for Luka. When he was balling out in Europe pre-2018 NBA Draft, he was skinnier than he’s now. He was lighter on his toes. His jumper was somewhat smoother. He was blowing by defenders utilizing misleading velocity. His side-steps had been faster. He was bouncier and extra explosive across the rim, whether or not that be rebounding balls in site visitors or throwing down vicious dunks.
I imply, test this man out:
Within the clip above, he’s racing down the courtroom with a defender on his aspect. He merely gathers the ball, rises up, and throws down a violent dunk. When was the final time you noticed him do this in an NBA recreation? (The reply is November 12 in opposition to the Spurs, and the dunk seemed manner much less cool than the one above.)
This all begs the query: Does going again and watching pre-NBA Luka movie depart you with hope in your coronary heart or despair?
The reply, like most issues: It’s difficult.
Mavs followers are nicely conscious of Luka’s health points coming into this season (and his health points in prior NBA seasons). It’s been closely talked about on podcasts and written about on web sites. It’s no secret that Luka is attempting to play himself into form proper now. And like regular, Luka will get into higher form. Possibly it’s quickly, possibly it’s not, however it’ll occur.
That’s a part of why watching these previous Luka highlights are trigger for unhappiness. At 22 years of age, Luka ought to nonetheless be in his bodily prime. He shouldn’t be trending downward as every season goes on. He used to glide to the rim like a shape-shifter, now he lumbers to the rim like a 35-year-old veteran. It seems to be like he’s enjoying in sluggish movement, and the outcomes are proper there with the attention take a look at. It’s unhappy to look at these previous Luka highlights as a result of we all know how unimaginable he really might be proper now.
However, watching his European movie offers me hope for the way forward for The Marvel Boy. He has the bodily presents that he wants. We don’t need to surprise what Luka may appear to be if he was somewhat faster as a result of we’ve seen it. And at 22, we all know he can get again to that.
It’s additionally vital to notice that who Luka is now continues to be a famous person. The man has made First Group All-NBA twice (twice!) and continues to be among the finest gamers on the planet. However he’s able to extra.
The factor is, we don’t need Luka to be the identical man he was as a teen. The energy that he’s added to his body within the NBA has made him damn-near unguardable — when he pairs it along with his savvy, surprising quickness. When he loses that step, he’s simpler to include. We would like Luka to be a mix of what he was in Europe and what he’s now — principally what Luka was within the 2019-20 NBA season. He wants his misleading quickness and his muscle. The muscle that he’s added is all a constructive. It’s the opposite stuff that’s worrisome. However that’s additionally the stuff that may be dropped with somewhat extra low season focus.
So going again to the unique query: Does watching pre-NBA Luka movie depart you with hope in your coronary heart or despair?
The reply for me is one preliminary minute of despair, adopted by infinite hope. The Mavs have that man on their crew, and he’s nonetheless solely 22 years previous. As soon as he finds the bodily mixture of how he was at Actual Madrid and the way he’s now in Dallas, he’ll be one of the vital unguardable gamers the league has ever seen — just like the 20-year-old we noticed in Dallas in his second season. We simply need to hope he finds that excellent mixture ahead of later. Every season that goes by with him not being in peak bodily situation will finally be a season wasted in the case of trying again on his legacy.
The excellent news: A whole lot of guys didn’t determine these things out after they first entered the league. It takes a while. As followers, it’s about being affected person, whereas additionally attempting to carry Luka accountable. We all know what he’s able to. We simply wish to see him get there.