Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic is one of the leading candidates for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. He tops the NBA in points per game with 34.3 this season and has led his team to a 7-5 record, which is 6th place in the Western Conference.
Luka has transformed himself into one of the “unicorns” of the NBA because he can score, pass, and rebound at such an efficient clip. Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant, who is a unicorn in his own right, admits that he wasn’t a fan of Doncic’s game when he first came into the league, but it has grown on him over time.
“He plays so slow… it’s hard because he goes from slow to fast so easily and he is just so smooth with it. I love his game,” Durant said during the most recent episode of his podcast “The ETCs”.
“At first, I didn’t, when he first came into the league because I’m like all he does is step back threes, and they be short as hell. He’s shooting like 27%-30% from the three-point line early on. I’m like this is the guy? But playing against someone I think they beat us by 40 when I was with Golden State, and he was controlling every possession, and I was like, ‘Yeah he nice.’ His game just started expanding.”
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Durant Sounds off on Luka’s Deceptiveness
The consensus around the NBA is that because Luka is not chiseled like LeBron James or explosive like Russell Westbrook, he is a slow player. But back in 2021, Durant dispelled that notion, noting that Doncic uses that false narrative to his advantage on the basketball court. His deceptive speed can easily catch whoever is defending him off guard.
“He’s deceptively quick too, he’ll get around you fast, slip around you fast for a layup and then slow down, that’s how he’ll get a lot of fouls too. Because he’ll act like he doesn’t have any athleticism.
And he can get around you and he got a big body, so he be trying to trick people into thinking he can’t get around you. And he slows down, you chase him down and he’ll slow down, and get a layup and one so you gotta be on point with that dude,” Durant said on “The ETCs” in May 2021.
“He plays at a nice pace that’s why I think he can make them shots that way. Like those crazy shots that he be making, the passes that he throws. Like he’s just smooth out there, he’s seeing everything before it even happens, he takes every pass that he wants it is just a nice pace.”
Broussard: Luka Better Than Durant
Luka is could go down as one of the best talents the NBA has ever seen. But that talent level has not translated to postseason success. The Mavericks got eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in back-to-back seasons before making the Western Conference Finals last season.
But despite his limited success in the postseason, NBA analyst Chris Broussard believes Luka is already better than Durant, a two-time NBA Finals MVP.
“He’s better than Kevin Durant… Now he is better, I don’t think people debate that. Maybe some. Giannis is the best player in the world, and Luka is the second-best player in the world. Luka is a better all-around player,” Broussard said on the November 8 episode of First Things First.
“KD is a better defender but it’s not like KD was an all-league type of defender. He’s (KD) obviously a better shooter but I don’t know if he’s a better scorer. Luka is at 26.74 for his career and KD is at 27.2. Luka is gonna up. He’s a better passer, controls the game better than KD does, and is a better rebounder. Obviously, KD has a title, but he has never led his own team to a championship. I think Luka will do that multiple times.”
KD and Luka have been a fun matchup thus far and will only get better as Luka continues to improve.