Though there were already little to no weaknesses in his game, Luka Doncic is trying to stamp out the one thing that you could foreseeably point to.
Speaking with reporters this week, the Dallas Mavericks All-Star Doncic said that he believes his defense, the most criticized aspect of Doncic’s play, has taken a major step forward this season.
“People are not going to admit it, but I think this year I’ve really taken a big step,” said Doncic, per Brad Townsend of the Dallas Morning News. “I don’t need people to believe, I believe in myself.
“I think I’ve been playing defense way better than the first four years and I think I’ve taken a huge step forward,” Doncic added.
The 23-year-old Doncic is known for his complete and comprehensive bag on offense, but the same cannot quite be said of his defense. Doncic lacks elite foot speed and is prone to getting beat off the dribble by quicker offensive players.
But Doncic has done a far better job this season of playing to his defensive strengths — anticipating passes, using his strength to defend the post, and crashing the boards to end the opponents’ offensive possession. As a result, Doncic is posting the highest defensive box score plus-minus of his career (per Basketball Reference), and the Mavericks as a whole have the ninth-best defensive rating in the NBA this season.
The MVP candidate Doncic may also have another reason for his defensive gains in 2022-23. Over the summer, Doncic made a big personal change.