The Mavericks lost to the Clippers last night in a rather entertaining edition of the DeAndre Jordan Bowl, one where nobody was particularly interested in playing defense and Lou Williams did the Lou Williams thing of making every goddamn shot he thought about. Leading the line for the Mavs was Slovenian rookie sensation Luka Dončić, which shouldn’t surprising anymore at all. The dude was always clearly ready to step into the NBA and do the same shit he did in Europe, and he’s leading the Mavericks, a fringe playoff contender, in points, minutes, and shots attempted. Last night, he went for a career-high 32 points.
I would like to talk about one weapon in particular: Luka’s nasty step-back jumper. The thinking goes that shots off the dribble are less efficient than shots off a pass, and for the most part, the data bears this out. However, as Bleacher Report looked into three seasons ago, the step-back is a sneakily good sort of shot to take, since the move of stepping back tends to produce an open look. Dončić gets his with an impressive array of floaters, dinkers, and leaners in the mid- and close-range, but when he works on the perimeter, he cooks defenders with the step-back. He hit two big ones last night, including one that kept the Mavs in the game at the very end. Look how much space he creates.
Avery Bradley is a ferocious on-ball defender, and he still got worked.
For someone without elite quickness, Dončić’s ability to get separation like this is crucial. As SB Nation pointed out earlier this month, he’s been coming up clutch with the step-back all season.
Good thing that Marvin Bagley can, uh, jump twice, or I’d be staggeringly jealous.