It is almost impossible to accurately represent the amount of hype and superlatives surrounding Slovenian born Luka Dončić. Unlike many of the superstars that have come before him, Luka did not exactly come into the league with many expectations placed upon him. Contrarily, he was fairly over-looked and was actually traded on draft day to the Dallas Mavericks by the Atlanta Hawks for Trae Young.
Despite this, he has significantly surpassed expectations, quickly becoming a media legend as he proves that he is more than ready for the NBA game.
With hindsight being what it is, many have pointed to his exploits in the EuroLeague – where Luka is quite accomplished as a former MVP – as the reason for his early success in the NBA. That analysis is slightly problematic as Luka is the only former EuroLeague MVP to have such an impact in the NBA.
Conjecture about past performance aside, it is obvious that Luka is a special talent. What Luka lacks in traditional quick twitch athleticism, he counteracts with great balance, eagle-eyed court vision and a soft shooting touch.
His size lets him see over the defense, and his veteran-like savvy keeps him in control and able to make the correct basketball play far more often than not. Though almost never compared to Kobe Bryant, he also shares the Mamba’s penchant for hitting unusually difficult shots.
The nitpick? He can stand to improve his three point shooting a bit, but he already shoots well enough to keep defenses honest. All this being said, how much better can be get?
Historical evidence would seem to suggest, not that much. For all the salivation that occurs over his young age and potential ceiling – it simply does not seem applicable to Luka. Upside for most young players tends to be the opposite of Luka’s situation. Players typically enter the league with their physical tools exceeding the polish of their on-court skills.
Luka on the other hand has a remarkably polished game with limited athletic potential. There just isn’t much to improve, making him the epitome of a low floor player.
To be clear, Luka is capable and will almost certainly improve his game. As mentioned before, he is already a capable shooter at a young age, typically a healthy indication that he has the potential to at least develop into an above average shooter.
He is unusual in the sense that high floor players are normally role players like Kyle Kuzma, who enter the league after multiple years in college and come into the NBA with a more mature game.
The trajectory of superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden is simply not possible for Luka Dončić. The presumption of a similar trajectory is precisely why he is already being mentioned as someone who is likely to be in the conversation of the greatest player of all time. If he could improve along those lines, he would in fact be the greatest player to ever play and it wouldn’t even be close frankly.
As it stands however, Luka is a great player whose potential will likely peter out sooner rather than later.