Three dunks all year

Luka Doncic plays like an MVP without being an explosive athlete

BY DAVID THORPE

Luka Doncic is not close to being the best athlete on the Dallas Mavericks. There are no highlights of his violent dunks. He does not soar through the air, switch hands mid-flight, nor chase anyone down to swat away a fastbreak layup. 

This is a league that is amazing at identifying and valuing the greatest athletes. But what happens when the best player is only good enough at running and jumping, but elite in other ways?

We struggle to value players like that. 

Including right now. Doncic has started his second season as well as any player his age has ever begun an NBA season. Not even LeBron opened a season with numbers like this at age 20. And it’s not just a case of numbers. There are wins, too. If the playoffs started today, the Mavericks—roundly seen as a borderline playoff team in the preseason—would have home court advantage.

Is it possible the next LeBron has almost none of LeBron’s athletic qualities?

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