Daily MVP Film Breakdown: Luka Doncic’s Veteran Patience

Rookie sensation Luka Doncic put up 29 points, 12 assists, and three clutch buckets late to lead the Mavericks to a rare road victory in Minnesota.

Doncic is famously just 19 years old, but he looks closer to a 19-year veteran a lot of the time. Forget about rookies, every player in the game could learn a thing or two about patience by watching Luka Doncic as he slows down briefly and frequently to freeze and read the defense. He reacts instantaneously, has every move in the book at his disposal, and shows tremendous burst the moment he creates an inch of daylight.

In Allen Iverson’s Players Tribune piece, he talked about how the best piece of basketball advice he ever got was when Isiah Thomas told him to take one extra patience dribble to put the game in slow motion. We hear analysts say all the time that the game is slowing down for a player, and that’s a rare trait among rookies. He isn’t rushing anything, and he’s playing like a seasoned vet.

That patience also pays dividends in the passing game. The ability to quickly diagnose and dissect the defense forces opponents to pay too much attention to Doncic, and he is incredibly talented at finding the open guy.

Luka also makes sick passes dribbling full speed ahead better than most guys in the league his size. He’s a true point forward, and he gets a ton of fantastic screens from DeAndre Jordan.

Doncic can also change his mind on a play so quickly it looks like a magic trick. These passes are as saucy as anybody’s in the NBA right now, pick your favorite.

This play in on its own deserves 800 words, but I’ll spare you. It sets up like a double screen to the left, but Rose ices it pretty weakly and Doncic darts to the right past him to draw a triple. This leaves Harrison Barnes at the arc and DeAndre Jordan between him and the defenders. Doncic sees it the whole way and drops a dime.

When it came time to win the game, there was only one Dallas player who needed the ball in his hands. Doncic made three straight baskets, giving the Mavericks the lead every time. He started with an insanely difficult shot over the seven-foot Karl-Anthony Towns out of the pick and roll.

On the next play, Dallas added a beautiful wrinkle to keep Towns from protecting the rim. Jalen Brunson impedes him with a screen, and once again Doncic pauses ever so slightly to read and react. In less than half a second Brunson cuts to the top of the key, Teague follows him, and Luka explodes through the hole for a hammer dunk.

There was no play design on Dallas’s last possession. The play was “Let Luka Do His Thing,” and it worked just like they drew it up.

Luka Doncic is the rookie of the year because he doesn’t play like a rookie at all. His ability to read, react, and rip apart defenses is up there with the best players in the game right now. The game is already in slow motion for him, and he’s not even 20 yet.

  
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