The most elite athletes across sports don't just make the spectacular plays. They make the spectacular appear routine, as if it would be silly to do anything else. Think about Lionel Messi cutting through a defense and kicking a laser into the back of the net, or Patrick Mahomes throwing across his body into the tightest possible window for a touchdown.
Luka Doncic falls firmly into this category. At 20 years old, the Mavericks star is already reading the game like a veteran. On Wednesday night, Doncic dominated the Kings with a 25-point, 17-assist, 15-rebound triple-double, the first such stat line in franchise history. One of those 17 assists perfectly illustrates the genius that has quickly pushed him into the MVP conversation.
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After watching that play, there is only one logical question to ask: What the hell, man?
This deserves a deeper examination. Doncic works off screens from Maxi Kleber and Dwight Powell and draws multiple defenders. Kleber, who is shooting over 40 percent from 3-point range this season, drags Marvin Bagley III out toward the top of the key, and Powell rolls down the lane.
Sacramento is in a good spot defensively here. De'Aaron Fox and Nemanja Bjelica pin Doncic against the sideline, Buddy Hield rotates to meet Powell and Bagley can easily close out on Kleber if Doncic swings the ball his way.
The one pass the defense will give a player on this kind of double-team is the deep skip across the court because there is typically enough time to recover. Unfortunately for the Kings, that player is a freaking warlock.
Doncic sees the opening and whips a one-handed dart to the opposite corner. He times his release perfectly as Hield plants his feet in the middle of the lane. The trajectory is high enough to avoid any outstretched arms but low enough to ensure Hield has basically zero chance to bother Dorian Finney-Smith.
And boom. The ball lands directly in Finney-Smith's shooting pocket, and all Hield can do is helplessly flail at him as he launches.
Too late — put another three points on the board. At least you tried.
If this whole sequence wasn't ridiculous enough for you, replays also showed that Doncic barely glanced at his target before flinging the ball across the court.
Doncic is on a short list of players who have the ability (and audacity) to make this pass. Even great assist men like Chris Paul and Trae Young are probably out of that group because of their size.
At 6-7, Doncic can survey the defense and maneuver around defenders. His creativity and anticipation opens lanes that simply don't exist for most guards.
Put it all together, and it's no surprise Doncic is leading the league's best offense. Everything is a little easier when you've got a basketball savant running the operation.