What Are We Supposed to Do With this Luka Dončić Information?

Luka Dončić's teammates get to touch the basketball more when he's on the bench. So?
Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

Everyone knows that Luka Dončić is one of the best players in the NBA and the Dallas Mavericks will go as far into the playoffs as he can lead them. What this post presupposes is ... what if he isn't and what if he won't? Ignore, of course, that Dončić was his usual reliable self in a Game 2 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder that wrested homecourt advantage back in Dallas' favor because what's really important here is the idea that his teammates get to touch the ball more often when he's not playing. Which of course is not a revelation of any signifcance as evey casual fans of the sport can identify Luka as one of the more heliocentric players.

For some reason it's important to discuss this right now because an anonymous assistant coach, told The Ringer's Howard Beck that opposing teams sense relief among Luka Doncic's teammates when he isn't playing. It's a great nugget and obviously sparked a conversation. The Carton Show, in a unique spot having access to one of those teammates' fathers, Tim Hardaway Sr., continued to dive in on Friday morning.

"When Luka's not playing, the ball moves better," Hardaway Sr. said after reminding the audience that he knows more ball than his son.

And you know what? Maybe. Maybe the ball zips around more frequently and its more of an equal share when one of the best players in the world is not an on-court option. But what is anyone supposed to do with this information? The Mavs are going to play Dončić as much as physically possible. Their superstar is going to continue playing the style which has allowed him to set a Hall of Fame pace. The organization as a whole will sleep like babies knowing that they'll pay whatever it takes to have this continue to happen.

We're talking about someone who has drawn comparisons to the sport's greats and will probably stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them when all is said and done, given he collect a ring or two along the way. Do the thought experiment of traveling back in time and hearing that the Celtics share the ball better when Larry Bird is on the bench. It feels like there was a time people wouldn't say stuff like that. Yet here we are.

It seems like the end goal in feeding such a narrative is to knock Dončic, which seems pretty crazy right now. And will be even more nuts if he's taking over a Western Conference Finals game in a few weeks. Or hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy. Any eventual banner hung down in Dallas isn't going to have an asterisk and a note at the bottom explaining that the Mavs averaged more passes per possession without Luka because it's wildly immaterial to what's happening in the real world.


Published
Kyle K

KYLE KOSTER