Luka Dončić is a modern player who combines different skills and uses them on an elite level every game. No one had the size, quickness, and smarts the Slovenian has at such a young age. However, his game reminds the OGs and old heads of some of the throwback greats. Here's why Dončić attracts fanbases of all ages.
Luka Dončić is wise beyond his years
Dončić has only played three years in the NBA, but he is already a 2-time All-Star and was twice selected to the All-NBA First Team. He did it by doing what teenagers should not be doing: displaying skills and poise far beyond his years.
One of the primary reasons was his high basketball IQ. Luka's court smarts are among the best of them in the league. Playing professionally since the age of 16 helped a lot, especially in a famed club such as Real Madrid.
In the Liga ACB and Euroleague, he faced tough competition, and he had to think of a way to play against grown men. Luka studied and mastered the fundamentals to get around stronger and bigger defenders. In the NBA, where players are more athletic but not necessarily fundamentally skilled, Dončić has his way so much that he claimed it was easier to score in the NBA than in Europe.
His court smarts also enable him to use overlooked but very effective moves on the court, such as ball fakes. This move was used by legends such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and Magic Johnson. Not many current stars use ball fakes anymore since players today would try to outmuscle or outjump defenders, but Dončić utilizes this move effectively.
In a way, his lack of athleticism forced Luka to outthink his competition and develop a game old basketball fans grew up with.
Dončić: a killer and a willing passer
Even though Luka is still young and not even approaching his peak yet, make no mistake about it: this kid is a killer. What makes him even hard to defend against is that he is a willing passer. Dončić finds joy in finding the open man, unlike James Harden, who passes the ball because he has no chance in an offensive play. But that doesn't mean Luka shies away from big moments. The Ljubljana native is a certified closer.
His clutch genes remind old-school basketball fans about MJ, Reggie Miller, and Bird. Being compared to legends at such a young age is no ordinary feat. The question has changed from whether Dallas Mavericks ever win a championship again to when Dallas will win a title after Luka Dončić arrived.
As long as Luka stays healthy, motivated, and focused on improving not only himself but also his teammates, there's a good reason to believe that the Mavericks will be in contention for the title for many years.