Upon his entry into the NBA, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic was immediately described as an offensive wizard. His step-back 3-pointer was just one of the tricks in his arsenal. His pick-and-roll mastery and his overall feel for the game are his lethal attributes. Now in his fourth year in the league, an advanced statistic reveals that the Slovenian isn’t just an offensive savant. He’s also turning into a great defender, effectively making him a two-way player.
Statistics culled by StatMuse reveal that Doncic has a defensive rating of 105.2 this season. This is the best among guards, with a minimum of 2000 minutes played per 82 team games. Behind him are Chris Paul (105.4), Marcus Smart (105.8), Stephen Curry (106.1), and Devin Booker (107.7).
Per Basketball-Reference, Defensive Rating “estimates how many points the player allowed per 100 possessions he individually faced while on the court.” This is good proof that while Doncic can’t be classified as a pickpocket or a shot blocker, we can still label him a good defender.
His remarkable defensive rating quantifies what we can see on the floor. This means that in defensive possessions, Doncic rotates appropriately and is at the right place at the right time. In effect, these fundamental things make it difficult for the offense to operate as it should. It sounds elementary, but not all NBA players possess this mindset when playing defense. The game moves at a very fast pace, and only those who can think quickly on their feet survive.
The Kidd effect
While there’s no question Doncic worked diligently to improve his defense, we should also give credit to head coach Jason Kidd. Stats reveal that Mavericks are the fifth-best defense in the league with a 107.4 defensive rating. Last season, under Rick Carlisle, they ranked 21st.
Kidd admitted that his stint with the Los Angeles Lakers under Frank Vogel helped him beef up his defensive playbook. After all, Vogel is known as a defensive-minded coach. This is what powered them to the NBA Championship in 2020. Apart from this, let’s not forget that Kidd was also a great defender during his playing days.
It’s easy to imagine Kidd giving Luka instructions on defense, with the Slovenian adding his own input. In effect, Mavs fans are witnessing a machine operating at its full capacity. And it’s led by Luka Doncic, who we can say is turning out to be a complete basketball player.