The Dallas Mavericks have looked overmatched versus the Golden State Warriors in the first three games, despite Luka Dončić playing some amazing basketball. But Luka is already at that level that he gets criticized no matter what if his team doesn't win. The latest take trending around is that Luka doesn't make his teammates better, and JJ Redick decided to put a stop to that.
Luka is on Magic's or Bird's level?
Max Kellerman went in on Luka the other day, saying he holds the ball too much, making his teammates cold and worse. In Max's mind, he is nowhere near the level of a Magic Johnson or Larry Bird when it comes to making their teams better.
But former NBA player and analyst JJ Redick stepped into Luka's defense. JJ spent only the second part of his final season in Dallas, but that was enough for him to see what kind of player and distributor "The Don" really is. And also, Redick brought the stats to back it up.
"Luka doesn't make people better? Magic & Bird, they played with Hall of Famers, man. Luka is playing on a team with rotation players, 2nd round picks, and undrafted guys like DFS (Dorian Finney-Smith). His shot quality created for his teammates - #1 in the last 2 seasons. They're shooting 33% on wide-open threes. It's not his fault they can't make shots."
JJ Redick, ESPN
JJ makes a valid point. Magic had guys like Kareem and Worthy, while Bird played with McHale, Parish, and Johnson, allowing them to have so much team success between each other.
The Mavericks really are a one-man show with Luka at the helm, but in today's NBA, you can't beat a good team like Golden State with one player. The Warriors are throwing various defensive formations on Luka, from doubles, strong hedges, zones, etc., and it is forcing him to fling the ball around and rely on his team more.
Luka has done a fantastic job of getting his points and sharing the ball, but his supporting cast hasn't delivered in this series. Guys like Reggie Bullock, Maxi Kleber, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Davis Bertans have all had their moments in this postseason, but they are all far too inconsistent. Only Jalen Brunson has been a constant next to Luka.
They are getting good looks, but the shots aren't falling. It makes you ask the question if all these role players are ready for the spotlight. Like Redick pointed out that Luka is creating good looks for his teammates, and they just have to knock them down. Maybe the Warriors are too big of a task for this Mavs squad, but a few upgrades around Luka, especially in the shooting department, could make Dallas a serious contender in the following seasons.