Paul Pierce’s take that Luka Doncic is the NBA’s most talented player is premature
Not surprisingly, Pierce’s proclamation has been met with some pretty firm kickback, just like pretty much everything he says these days.
To be fair to Pierce, Doncic is having a spectacular sophomore campaign. The Slovenian is averaging 28.7 points, 9.3 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.1 steals over 33.3 minutes per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the floor, 31.8 percent from 3-point range and 75.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Doncic also has the Mavs in playoff position, which is something that most people did not expect entering the season.
But regardless, Pierce’s assertion that Doncic is the most talented player in the league is premature, at best.
Look: Luka Doncic is really, really good. He is an All-Star, and he is on the verge of becoming a superstar. He and Kristaps Porzingis comprise one of the game’s most lethal duos, and in a couple of years, it would not be shocking if Dallas was legitimately contending for a championship.
However, when you say someone is the most talented player in basketball, you are essentially saying they are the best player in the NBA, or at least close to it.
Luka Doncic has not reached that level yet.
While Doncic, who has been likened to Larry Bird by some, is a terrific scorer with outstanding floor vision and terrific rebounding ability, he has some holes.
First of all, Doncic is not the greatest perimeter shooter. He made just 32.7 percent of his triples during his rookie season, and this year, he has been even less effective from deep. Albeit, Doncic’s volume increased this season (he is attempting 9.1 treys per game as opposed to the 7.1 triples he took per night in 2018-19), but at best, Doncic has not improved from distance.
In a league where floor spacing reigns supreme, Doncic’s inability to consistently knock down 3s may become a problem. Judging from his mediocre free-throw shooting, it doesn’t seem like he is much of a shooter at all right now, though it’s fair to note the poor 3-point percentage is partially because of tough shot selection.
Even more damning is Luka Doncic’s defense, which is pedestrian on a good day.
Yes, Doncic has the size, length and toughness to avoid getting bullied, but his lack of footspeed and slow reactions on the defensive end are troublesome.
Can Doncic improve as a defender? Sure. But it’s hard to imagine him ever becoming a two-way player like the Kawhi Leonards and Jimmy Butlers of the world. People seem to forget that playing defense is a talent, and if you aren’t a good defensive player, it does detract from your overall skill level.
There is no question that Luka Doncic Doncic is smooth and incredibly fun to watch. He’s putting up insane numbers and is still just 21 years old. Perhaps he will indeed be the best player in basketball one day (I doubt it, but maybe).
But calling him the most talented player in the game today is unequivocally a premature statement, if not a little crazy.