NBA Film Room: Mavericks’ Luka Doncic Has Mastered Passing

Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks are coming off an impressive run in this year’s NBA playoffs that ended with a Western Conference Finals appearance. He pulled off yet another All-NBA First-Team campaign for the third consecutive season, too.

Doncic finished his playoff run with averages of 31.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists. He led the NBA playoffs in scoring for a second consecutive year after averaging 35.7 points per game during his series against the LA Clippers in 2021.

Among the pivotal reasons for Doncic’s dynamic playoff performances is his impact as a passer. He draws significant attention to the ball, and at 6-foot-7 with great patience and the ability to read the progression of the defense, he knows how to manipulate the opposition to take advantage.

In the video below, I created an in-depth analysis of Doncic’s passing throughout the 2022 NBA playoffs to highlight what makes him such an impactful passer. For more intriguing NBA content, be sure to subscribe to the channel.

After the midseason trade to part with Kristaps Porzingis, the Mavericks leaned heavier into “Luka ball” where there are typically two highly efficient catch-and-shoot threats in the corner with a rim roller setting a high ball screen or orchestrating a handoff. Doncic’s combination of scoring ability sets the tone then his passing talent makes life miserable for the defense.

When the defense deploys drop coverage, Doncic has great pace and gets into the gap to make the defense pay with floaters, lobs, and finishes at the rim. When the defense plays close to the level of the screen, he knows how to manipulate the low defender on the tag and the backline defense on X-outs while being capable of still using his frame to score or his turnaround jumper on a stride stop.

One of the more intriguing aspects of what makes Doncic such a tough player for a defense to account for is that he can use his big frame to post up and attack smaller guards. This tends to force the defense to quickly send help or to get punished by Doncic on backdown dribbles.

There isn’t a great answer when it comes to slowing down Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks’ offense. He’s a major threat to attack switches out in space with his stepback 3-pointer against bigs and his crafty ball handling to break them down off the bounce to get into the paint. His impact requires extreme measures like overloading the strong side, shrinking the floor, etc. However, that’s why his passing becomes so important.

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