With the NBA Playoffs in full swing, players have been given the chance to rise to the occasion without the mounted pressure of thousands of screaming fans bearing down on them. One player who has impressed the most during the first round is Dallas Mavericks point guard Luka Dončić.
NBA fans already knew how special Dončić was. In his rookie season, the Slovenian averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, according to Basketball Reference. The eye-opening statistics would earn him NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 2019. He would take his game to the next level the following season, averaging nearly a triple-double with 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game, per Basketball Reference. He subsequently became an NBA All-Star starter in the Western Conference and led the Mavericks to a No. 7 seed in the postseason — the team’s first playoff appearance since the 2015-16 season.
Although Dallas was eliminated by the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round, Dončić wasn’t stopped from being the most impressive player in the series.
For anyone who still isn’t sold on Dončić, please watch Game 4 of this series. There are certain players throughout NBA history who have specific moves that can’t be stopped, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s sky hook, Kobe Bryant’s fadeaway and Tim Duncan’s bank shot. Let me introduce you to the Dončić step-back 3-pointer. It feels as though every time you see Dončić do a step-back dribble from beyond the arc, the ball will go through the basket.
However, it’s not just the step-back three that makes Dončić great. It’s all the little things he does on offense that makes him so great. He can drive to the basket and bully his way to a layup. He can space the floor to allow his wing shooters to get open looks. He crashes the boards to create second-chance opportunities for Dallas. While he isn’t the flashiest, most athletic or the fastest, he does everything with such perfection that it automatically puts his team in a position to win.
He’s comparable to the mega mushroom power-up from Mario Kart Wii. Yes, I said the Nintendo Wii. The power-up made your character very large for a few seconds and you could crush your opponents and slow them down during the timeframe. While it isn’t as convenient as the speeding bullet power-up, it sets you up for victory just as well and does all the necessary things to give you what you need to compete for wins.
I don’t see Dončić slowing down at any point during his career, barring injury, and I’m ready to not only make his case for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, but 15 years from now, the headlines will read: Luka Dončić is the greatest player in NBA history.