In the weeks leading up to the 2018 NBA Draft, front offices throughout the league were divided into two factions: there were those who were skeptical about how Luka Doncic’s skill set would translate to the NBA and those who hailed him as the second coming of The Terminator.
I mean, sure, he was terrorizing grown-ass men in the Euroleague since he was 16 years old, but heading into the draft, he was also knocked for his poor mechanics and lack of lateral quickness. So instead of comparing him to a Steve Nash or Larry Bird, many saw his ceiling as Toni Kukoc or Hedo Turkoglu—good players, but limited contributors who never quite ascended to the upper echelon of the NBA.
Fast forward to 2020 and after scorching the league for the past two seasons, Doncic is not primed to collect the NBA’s Most Improved Player award, but he’s putting the fear of God into the Los Angeles Clippers—the same Los Angeles Clippers who are supposed to win the NBA title this season.
[Editor’s Note from News Editor and resident Lakers stan Monique Judge: LMAO nigga, yeah right the Clippers will never]
Like millions of other folks, I watched in horror this weekend as the first time All-Star not only dug the 7th-seeded Mavericks out of a 21-point-deficit, but he finished with 43 points, 17 boards and 13 assists before demoralizing the Clippers in overtime with this nasty buzzer-beater from 28 feet out:
With Sunday’s win, the Mavericks tied up the series 2-2 while Clippers coach Doc Rivers likely spent his evening in urgent care with high blood pressure. But did I mention Doncic is only 21 years old? Did I mention he did all of this on a bad ankle? Did I mention he did this without Kristaps Porzingis?!
“Throughout—and I’ve been saying this for three games now—we’re so much better than what we’re playing,” Rivers said after the game. “But honestly, give Dallas credit. Like could’ve given up down 21, they’re minus Porzingis. But they didn’t and they just stayed in the game.”
Instead of soaking up all the accolades, Doncic attributed the win to confidence throughout the team.
“If you don’t believe, you shouldn’t be here,” he said after the game. “But we’ve believed from the beginning, and now we’re tied 2-2.”
Playing against 7th and 8th seeds in the first round of the playoffs is supposed to be a cakewalk. But these aren’t regular circumstances, so the Doncic the Clippers are playing against is coming off of a four-month “offseason”—which basically means he’s playing like a third-year player instead of the sophomore wunderkind they would’ve gone up against had the coronavirus not put the planet in a headlock.
It also doesn’t help that Paul George is playing like absolute dog shit.
The absence of defensive stalwart Patrick Beverley can’t be understated either. Beverley has missed the last two games with a calf strain and on Sunday, Doncic switched to Reggie Jackson incessantly—did you see who was guarding Doncic on that game winner?—and barbequed his ass time and time and time again.
The Clippers better figure out something and quick.
A brick wall, an executive order deporting him to Guantanamo Bay, a surface-to-air missile, the Spanish Flu, a police baton... something. Because Luka ain’t letting up and he’s about as much of a sure thing as Arby’s being terrible.