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HomeSportsLuka Doncic is NBA's most dangerous post-up player: Mavericks star borrowing from...

Luka Doncic is NBA’s most dangerous post-up player: Mavericks star borrowing from prime Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki

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“Stat Just Happened” is our series where we pair an important stat with how it actually unfolded on the floor. Our aim? To answer key questions, uncover hidden truths and peel back the curtain on why some numbers matter more than others.

Today, Mavericks star Luka Doncic takes the spotlight.

4.9

According to NBA.com, that’s how many points per game Luka Doncic is scoring in the post this season.

Why is that notable? Not only is it way up from last season (2.4), but it’s one of the highest marks in the NBA.

That’s right — the 6-foot-7 Doncic is in the same category as 7-footers like Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo when it comes to how often he scores in the post. Doncic has been incredibly efficient as well. He is finishing at a rate of 1.07 points per post-up possession, ranking him in the 72nd percentile.

For context, a Doncic post-up is currently more valuable than LeBron James getting out in the open court, Ja Morant running a pick-and-roll, Klay Thompson sprinting off a screen or sharpshooter Fred VanVleet spotting up. He’s been a cheat code on the low block.

League leaders in post-up points per game
Rank Player Points per game Points per possession Percentile
1. Joel Embiid 5.5 1.07 72.7
2. Nikola Jokic 5.1 1.10 77.3
3. Luka Doncic 4.9 1.07 71.6
4. Jusuf Nurkic 4.8 0.89 35.2
5. Zion Williamson 4.3 1.03 63.2
6. Deandre Ayton 4.0 1.01 61.4
7. Kristaps Porzingis 3.7 1.10 79.5
8. Anthony Davis 3.5 0.90 36.4
9. Nikola Vucevic 3.4 0.95 51.1
10. Jonas Valanciunas 3.3 0.99 54.5

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Those numbers point to just how polished Doncic, who won’t celebrate his 24th birthday until the end of February, already is with his back to the basket, all of which starts with his strength.

Doncic is a tough matchup for most perimeter players because of his size. He’s listed at 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, and anyone who has guarded him will tell you how well he uses his body to create advantages. He’ll simply go into beast mode if he has someone small on him, using his strength to back them down before finishing over or through them.

If Doncic is able to get all the way to the paint, it’s game over. He has been one of the best finishers at the rim and from floater range since stepping foot in the NBA, this season being no exception.

MORE: How Luka Doncic defied the odds to become one of the NBA’s best finishers

If watching him overpower the 6-foot-5 Jordan Clarkson doesn’t do it for you, maybe watching him do it to the 7-foot-2 Bol Bol (!) will.

It’s when teams take the bully ball option away that it gets interesting because he’s spent the last few years developing some mean counters.

Does this move look familiar?

It should.

What about this one?

It also should.

Doncic will even up and under his way onto open shots like a modern-day Hakeem Olajuwon. His footwork is elite.

Doncic isn’t as tall as Dirk Nowitzki, as explosive as Kobe Bryant or even as fluid as Olajuwon, but borrowing some of their moves gives him the weapons to score against almost anyone. To boot, he’s a basketball genius who knows how to draw and sell fouls. Doncic has drawn a shooting foul on almost a quarter of his post-ups this season, which is one of the highest rates in the NBA. 

Doncic has a way of humbling antsy defenders real quick.

The icing on the cake is that Doncic is also in the conversation for the best passer in the league. That same size that helps him power his way through all types of defenders allows him to survey the court and spot any openings. Double him, and you open the door to a whole other world of hurt.

There aren’t many players who cough the ball up more than Doncic on a per-game basis, but he rarely makes a mistake when he’s operating out of the post. He’s turned it over on only 7.0 percent of his post-up possessions, which — you guessed it — is one of the lowest rates in the league.

So, to recap: Doncic can score against almost anyone, make every pass in the book, draw a ton of fouls and almost never commits a turnover. It’s no wonder his efficiency is sky-high.

Doncic has shown flashes of being a skilled post player in the past, but he’s ramped up the volume in a big way this season, going from a more opportunistic scorer to a flat-out dominant one.

We’ve seen many players do the same in the past, just not necessarily as early in their career as Doncic is. For example, it wasn’t until he started to lose some of his superhuman athleticism that Michael Jordan committed to playing in the post. Ditto with Bryant. It made them more well-rounded scorers and helped extend their primes.

Again, Doncic is only 23. He was already one of the most dominant offensive players in the NBA, and yet he continues to find new ways to level up.

The proof is in that one key number…

4.9


Credit: sportingnews.com

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