Is Luka Dončić the best player in the NBA? Inside his journey and mindset
After scoring 33 points in a victory over the Utah Jazz (6-3), it is time people start talking about Luka Dončić as one of the best basketball players in the world.
Dončić is only the third player in NBA history to start the season with seven straight 30-point games; the 23-year-old superstar also leads the league in points per game at 36.1.
If the young guard continues on this path, it’s safe to say the Dallas Mavericks (4-3) have an incredibly bright future.
“I always say, ‘I just wish to play in the NBA.’ This is really a dream for me, I couldn’t be happier to play basketball to be my job, and that’s it. I’m just happy to play basketball, and when we win, it’s even better,”Dončić told reporters.
It’s all about your mindset
Though Dončić comes off as a fun and relaxed guy, what makes him so elite is his championship mindset:
“I just know from last year, I had to start [this season] better because the way I started last year wasn’t exactly acceptable. So I tried to learn from that and just be better than last year” he later added.
Dončić made it his mission to improve over the offseason, and his trainer, Anze Macek, said he wanted to begin working ‘immediately’ after the end of last season.
“Shortly after the end of the season, he [Dončić] contacted me and said that he wanted to start fitness training immediately… When he went on vacation, he asked me for a work [out] plan… He is also increasingly aware of the importance of physical preparation. That’s why I believe in his progress,”Macek told SportsKlub Slovenija.
Life before the NBA
This championship-caliber mindset didn’t just begin for the Mavericks Guard; it is something he has carried with him since he was a young kid. Dončić became a pro basketball player at 13 years old; five years later, he would become the youngest EuroLeague MVP.
Despite this huge accomplishment, Dončić would continue to work hard to silence doubters who felt any team that picked him was taking a ‘chance’ since he was a European player.
How he dealt with criticism
“Dončić, at 6-foot-7, will get exposed for all the Dirk [Nowitzki Had]. Dirk’s not a great athlete. Dirk doesn’t have explosiveness. Dirk isn’t physical. Well, that’s what’s going to happen to Dončić because he doesn’t have the one thing nobody can bother or stop,” .Skip Bayless said on Undisputed, directly after the 2018 NBA draft.
Well, Dončić continued to work in silence and prove critics wrong. He would earn the 2018-19 NBA rookie of the year award and average 31.0 points per game in the playoffs a season later against all-stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and the accompanying Los Angeles Clippers.
However, after two first-round playoff exits against the Clippers – coming into the 2021-22 season, people were questioning if Dončić had what it took to propel a team deep into the playoffs.
Only time will tell
Dončić would answer these questions come playoff time, making it all the way to game five of the Western Conference Finals. During this 15-game playoff run, the young phenom averaged 31.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 6.4 assists while shooting 45.5% from the field.
Whenever people have questioned Dončić’s capabilities, he has answered impressively. It will be fascinating to see what questions he will answer this year when he looks to earn his first NBA Finals appearance.