On Sunday, August 30, the Dallas Mavericks were officially eliminated from the 2020 playoffs. While it was a disappointing end to the season, the team’s time in the bubble confirmed one thing: Luka Doncic is already one of basketball’s brightest stars. The young guard, however, isn’t going to rest on his laurels just yet.
Shortly after the Mavs’ season ended, the Slovenian star had already turned his mind toward the 2020-21 campaign. Luka Doncic already knows that he wants to improve during the offseason; if he’s true to his word, the rest of the NBA better watch out.
Luka Doncic’s rise to NBA stardom
As of Sunday, Luka Doncic has finished his second season in the NBA. While that’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, the Slovenia guard has already established himself as a legitimate star.
Doncic’s basketball career began in Europe, where he first hit the hardwood for his hometown team, Union Olimpija. Before long, word of his exploits had spread across the continent, and Real Madrid came calling. He joined the Spanish giant and, within a few seasons, had forced his way into the senior squad.
When the 2018 NBA draft arrived, Doncic felt he was ready to make the jump to North America. The Atlanta Hawks snagged the guard with the third-overall pick before trading him to Dallas. Shortly after, Mavs head coach Rich Carlisle predicted that his team had just landed a franchise player.
During Doncic’s first two NBA campaigns, he’s more than proven his coach right. After cruising to the 2019 Rookie of the Year title, the guard took things to another level as a sophomore; he averaged 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game in the 2019-20 regular season and, despite his team’s elimination, made a statement during the playoffs.
Knowing where to improve during the offseason
While he can’t be too happy that his season is over, Luka Doncic did more than his fair share of work during the NBA playoffs; from buzzer-beaters to triple-doubles, the guard barely put a foot wrong. That reality, however, doesn’t mean he thinks his work is already done.
One he leaves the bubble, the Dallas Mavericks guard will presumably take some time off to relax after an unusual conclusion to the 2019-20 campaign. After that, though, he already has a plan for offseason improvements.
“There’s a lot of things to improve on,” Doncic said after the game, as seen in a video tweeted out by Ben Golliver. “You can’t work on just one thing, you’ve got to work on everything.”
Despite that statement, though, the guard does have one specific skill to perfect. “I’ll especially work on my shooting,” he continued. “That’s my key.”
An improved jumper could make Luka Doncic unstoppable
First and foremost, Luka Doncic isn’t a bad shooter by any stretch of the imagination. With that disclaimer out of the way, though, an improved shot could make the guard even more deadly.
During his first two seasons in the NBA, Doncic has proven that he can drive into the lane and finish at the rim with ease. His shooting numbers, however, leave a little bit to be desired. This season, the guard shot 46.3% from the floor and 31.6% from three-point range; there’s room for improvement there, especially when Doncic isn’t creating his own shot off the dribble.
Once again, that shouldn’t be taken as a slight; both Giannis Antetokounmpo and LeBron James needed to improve their outside shooting when they first came into the league. Given the way modern basketball is played, everyone, especially star players, needs to do it all. Right now, defenses can dare Doncic to beat them from the outside, especially if Kristaps Porzingis isn’t in the lineup.
During his first two years in the association, Luka Doncic has already established himself as a legitimate star. If he can become a knock-down three-point shooter, though, he’ll be pretty close to unstoppable.
Stats courtesy of Basketball-Reference