DALLAS - In Luka Doncic's quest for excellence, he's hard on himself. Happily, that allows passionate Dallas Mavericks observers to be hard on him, too.
He invites that sort of "demanding'' attitude from his audience when, for instance, he pops on with Stephen A. Smith and says, "I'm not playing very good,'' his reasoning being that his team isn't winning - personal stats aside.
Luka also invites the demands from his loving fans when he shoots step-back 3's, which - bottom-line, is simply not a good shot.
We all remember his exhilarating buzzer-beater that shocked the Clippers in Game 4 last summer in the NBA Playoffs bubble. It will live as one of the most iconic shots in franchise history. I still have goosebumps over it.
But ... it's a difficult shot. Low-percentage. A little off-balance, release while the body is still moving, from 22 feet away. And up until last week - when to Luka's credit, he made a bunch of 'em on the way to scoring 90 points over the course of two games - he missed a ton of them.
Again, previous to last week, I estimate this from my "eyeball test'': He makes about 1 in 4. Over a recent 10-game run, Luka is 17 of 61 from beyond the arc, and many of those were step-backs. That’s 27 percent.
Only once in those 10 games did he make more than 40 percent.
And now, courtesy of DBcom’s Dalton Trigg, some hard numbers:
Over Luka’s last 10 games, he’s shooting 54.5% (62.5 eFG%) on pull-up 3's compared to 34.4% (49 eFG%) on step-back 3's.
For the season overall, he’s shooting 43.2% on pull-up 3's compared to 31.8% on step-back 3's.
The numbers fit "the eyeball test.'' The numbers, I think, do not lie.
Given his almost unprecedented skillset, I'll argue the step-back 3 should be "last resort'' more than "habitual option.'' For a guy who - still just 21 - who can use his big 6-8 frame to navigate his way into the lane and to the rim at will (and who has improved his free-throw shooting greatly, to his credit) – step-back bombs represent "settling.''
And a losing strategy.
I recognize the step-back 3 allows Luka separation. I even recognize that compared to the rest of the planet, he's good at it. But there is a stubbornness to his reliance on it when - given his uncanny BBIQ and vision - he can surely see a better way.
CONTINUE READING: Luka Doncic Warning: 'Don't Try To Bully' Mavs Star