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Mavs Need 3 Improvements From Luka; Asking Too Much?

This could very well be the year where Doncic takes the next step in his career by winning his first league MVP award. To get there? He needs to take these three steps.

This process would be much easier for superstar Luka Doncic, who just signed a five-year supermax extension to remain in Dallas, if he was flanked by, say, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. For the Los Angeles Lakers, with their addition of Russell Westbrook, that's what a "Big 3'' looks like for a Mavs foe.

In Dallas? Luka's "Big 3,'' we're afraid, is about the three ways he needs to be better ... so the Mavs can be better.

READ MORE: Luka Signs $207M Deal: 'I'm Humbled to Remain In Dallas

Doncic is going to be an MVP candidate again, before the NBA season begins, and he's going to get votes again, once the season ends.

This is not to be taken for granted. 

Indeed, Doncic has been so incredibly special through his first three NBA seasons, that it's hard to conceptualize him being even better going forward. And yet Doncic is still just 22 years old, and based on that alone, he has years to grow and room to grow.

What three areas exist for Luka improvement?

Specifically, his three-point shooting, his free-throw shooting and "concerning himself with things within his control.''

1) Free-throw shooting. This is a concept that goes back to grade-school basketball: The guy who handles the ball the most (the point guard) is the guy who is going to get fouled. Therefore, that guy must make his free throws.

Simple ... yet Luka isn't quite there.

Doncic shot 73 percent from the free-throw line last season, actually regressing from his second NBA year, when he shot 76 percent last season. And this year in the playoffs against the Clippers? While dealing with a neck strain, he shot an abysmal 53 percent.

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Of all of Luka's (relative) "issues,'' this should be the easiest one to fix.

2) Three-point shooting. It should be noted that Doncic made impressive strides in his three-point shooting last season, shooting 35% from deep on 8.3 attempts per game. He shot 32.7% and 31.6% from deep in his first two seasons, respectively.

Maybe this is more about "shot selection.'' We'll argue that the Mavs' talent limitations leave Doncic having to shoot from distance - and sometimes, from desperation. But Doncic's BBIQ is high - and so should his long-distance shooting be.

3) Control. "You can't control what the ball do,'' Josh Howard once famously said.

Meanwhile, just down the street, former Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Kidd's mantra was, "I only concern myself with things within my control.''

Doncic can control his fitness.

Doncic can - maybe - control his emotions.

An area of Doncic's game that should be better this time around is his conditioning, especially as it pertains to start of the season. The beginning of last season was rushed due to the Covid-19 pandemic throwing the NBA's schedule off-track, and Doncic appeared to working himself into shape during the first couple of weeks as his three-point shooting struggled.

Doncic having played deep into the Olympics with Slovenia should also pay dividends for him in this department as well. ... but while we're reviewing his magical run in international play, yes, we must note that he snipped at the referees there, too, just as he does in the NBA.

It is a basketball strategy that will not work. Luka Doncic will eventually "get superstar calls.'' But that will come with time - not with griping about it.

This could very well be the year where Doncic takes the next step in his career by winning his first league MVP award. To get there? He needs to take these three steps.

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