Most scouts and draft guys that didn't have Luka Dončić no.1 in his draft class raised questions about his commitment to being in NBA shape. It seems Luka won't convince them at the beginning of this season as a picture of him from the Mavs' first preseason game reveals a bit of extra luggage.
Yes, that layer of extra protection around the waist was trending on Twitter for a while. It's the first thing you'll hear about most international prospects: “Is he athletic enough?” The guys at P3 educated us on athleticism - speed and strength aren't the only elements of athleticism that can give you an advantage on the basketball court. Like James Harden, Luka is tremendous at stopping on a dime and knows how to use it to his advantage. He never looks lightning quick but still gets around almost anyone with ease.
Never the less, Dončić has the potential to lead a team all the way. That means beating decent NBA defenders isn't enough, or for that matter, defending decent NBA attackers. Can Luka match up with LeBron, Kawhi, and the likes in a Game 7 after a long season? That challenge is a 365-day commitment. Brad Townsend asked Luka about his belly fat, and here's his explanation.
“I mean, people on Twitter say every stuff. But, it’s true I’m not in my best shape. I will get there for sure. But, you know, I’ve never been a muscular guy, so what can I say?”
Luka Dončić, Twitter
If I had a dollar for every player that said they showed up for a new season in “the best shape of my life.” Hats off to Luka for being honest and chill about people on Twitter.
We have different types of physiques, and not everyone can have a beach body. Zion just looks at a dumbell and gains a pound of fat-free muscle. Luka will never be ripped, nor should he. That's not the goal here. But there's a reason the Heat were great late in games, and their body fat policy has something to do with it.
Luka is still young enough that a few weeks of a clean diet and a bit more basketball will be enough for him to get back in shape. But there's a difference between basketball shape and Finals shape. Luka said LeBron is his rolemodel. I hope he tries his offseason regime for a year or two.