There are few things more sacred in basketball than a “passing of the torch” moment. In the lone intersection season between Dallas Mavericks icon Dirk Nowitzki and their new wunderkind Luka Doncic, the franchise mantle exchanged hands in more ways than one.
Not only did Dirk pass on the baton to Doncic as the head of the snake, but he also gave him an up close and personal look at his legendary one-legged fadeaway – a move that Luka has admittedly developed in no small part to being exposed to the Hall of Famer in his rookie season.
“Dirk always did it,” Doncic said during preseason, referring to his rookie season teammate Dirk Nowitzki, who made that shot iconic en route to the No. 6 spot on the all-time scoring list. “It's a fadeaway, so it's tough to block, tough to defend. It just adds another shot to my isolation.”
Doncic not only added it to his repertoire. It's become one of his go-to moves to create space when isolated against a defender in the midrange. Nowitzki used it to perfection to get a clean look whenever he wanted. While Luka isn't the same seven-foot specimen that his predecessor was, he's managed to exploit the offensive hack time and time again.
Luka Doncic with the Dirk to give the Mavs an 11-point lead. pic.twitter.com/QUznAbZlOZ
— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) January 15, 2022
It's a Luka move that even Dirk's former teammate turned Mavs head coach Jason Kidd has validated with a nickname, which only lends further to its legitimacy.
“Kidd refers to Doncic's one-legged fadeaway as the “Baby Dirk,” and Doncic is on a list of stars who have borrowed the shot from the Mavericks legend.
There's no doubt that Luka Doncic will whip out that Dirk shot dozens of times throughout the new season. Defenders can be ready for it, but they likely won't be able to stop it.