How the Mavericks can learn from Luka Doncic’s success with Slovenia at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

Though it wasn’t the end Luka Doncic and Slovenia wished on the Tokyo Olympics, ending fourth within the nation’s first ever look in basketball is nothing to hold their heads about. Over the course of two weeks, Slovenia continued to shock everybody with a win over Argentina, one other over Spain and located themselves with the chance to win a bronze medal after falling to France in the semifinals within the closing seconds. As every recreation handed, Doncic’s performances solely continued to amaze, echoing but once more what makes him so particular.

Slovenia additionally confirmed what a staff greatest suited to Doncic’s abilities might appear to be, one thing that the Dallas Mavericks ought to actually pay attention to. Whereas the general expertise stage on the Slovenian nationwide staff does not stack as much as the Mavericks, the strategy to establishing the Olympic roster yielded to Doncic’s skills higher than what we have seen the Mavericks achieve this far in his three-year profession. Merely put: encompass Doncic with sufficient constant shooters and a pair different guys who can deal with the ball and watch what occurs. 

Each recreation Slovenia performed, there have been numerous possessions of Doncic attacking the rim to then flip a move out to a shooter within the nook or again out on the wing for an open 3-pointer. It is one thing we have seen him do numerous occasions in Dallas, however as a substitute of Dorian Finney-Smith standing within the nook, who shot 39.4 p.c from deep final season, it was Vlatko Cancar drilling 3s at a 48 p.c clip. Finney-Smith really had the most effective taking pictures season of his profession final 12 months, however if you put it side-by-side with Cancar’s numbers, or anybody else on Slovenia’s staff, then it simply seems common.

This is a breakdown of Slovenia’s 3-point taking pictures all through the Olympics:

Klemen Prepelic



Vlatko Cancar



Zoran Dragic



Edo Muric



Mike Tobey



It felt like each time Slovenia tried a 3-pointer, it was getting in. Compared to the Mavericks this previous season, that they had only one shooter who tried three or extra 3s a recreation that shot over 40 p.c from deep: Maxi Kleber (41 p.c). Dallas tried the sixth most 3s within the league final season (38 per recreation), but ranked 18th within the league in 3-point share (36.2 p.c).

How Dallas makes use of Doncic in comparison with how Slovenia makes use of him aren’t too dissimilar: house the ground, set some screens and permit Doncic to create some magic both by scoring or passing. The distinction, although, is Slovenia was extra outfitted to make that profitable within the Olympics. Slovenia had three surefire shooters who have been going to knock down 3s at a constant sufficient clip, whereas the Mavericks most dependable shooter final season was Tim Hardaway Jr., and even he might be actually streaky. 

To date in free company, the Mavericks have considerably addressed the necessity for extra shooters, after agreeing to a three-year, $30 million cope with Reggie Bullock, who shot 41 p.c from deep final season and is a profession 39.2 p.c 3-point shooter. Additionally they went out and obtained Sterling Brown, who shot 42.3 p.c on a lowly Houston Rockets staff final season, and Dallas is banking on him replicating that success, as a substitute of the 32.4 p.c he shot in Milwaukee the season prior. That is along with re-signing Hardaway Jr., who was undoubtedly the second-best participant for the Mavs within the postseason and earned Sixth Man of the 12 months buzz for his play off the bench.

If these three guys can shoot persistently from deep, it will remedy a serious challenge Dallas had final season. It will additionally make sure that extra of Doncic’s nice passes aren’t empty, and are generated into extra assists. Final season Doncic ranked fifth within the league in potential assists per recreation (16.3). He already averaged 8.6 assists per recreation final season, however that quantity might simply be within the double figures if guys are pulling down photographs when Doncic is placing them in place to get good, even nice seems.

Getting constant shooters to encompass Doncic is the simple half, however the half that Dallas hasn’t fairly discovered is getting a secondary ballhandler, or simply guys with higher handles to place alongside Doncic within the beginning lineup. It is not that Slovenia had Doncic sharing ball-handling duties with anybody else, however fairly there have been a number of guys who have been able to getting their very own shot or discovering the open participant for a bucket. 

The identical cannot be mentioned in regards to the Mavericks roster, who struggled to search out anybody outdoors of Doncic to be ample shot creators this previous season. Hardaway and Jalen Brunson have been maybe the most effective at doing so, however Hardaway has a knack for getting uncontrolled generally which lead to turnovers, and Brunson is not at all times constant. Everybody else, like Finney-Smith, Kleber and Kristaps Porzingis are primarily used as catch-and-shoot gamers as none of them have adequate ball-handling abilities that warrant them even dribbling the ball once they get a move.

However Slovenia confirmed Dallas that maybe a secondary ballhandler is not the tip all be all. Except a deal for Goran Dragic will get accomplished for Dallas, this shall be 12 months 3 of the Mavericks unable to discover a appropriate secondary playmaker to place subsequent to Doncic. As an alternative, maybe what Dallas ought to be targeted on is placing sufficient guys round him who not solely might be catch-and-shoot gamers, however when wanted might get their very own shot, too. Slovenia had guys like Klemen Prepelic, Vlatko Cancar and Zoran Dragic who might get to the rim, and somebody like Mike Tobey who can rating on the within and knock down 3s. When Doncic went to the bench, Slovenia did not give up leads just like the Mavericks so typically did final season. They have been able to not solely holding onto leads, however including to them. 

Prepelic was greater than able to operating the offense for Slovenia when Doncic was on the bench. Dragic might convey the ball up, take two dribbles and nail back-to-back 3s to place the stress on Germany within the closing minutes of a recreation. Cancar might get to the rim for a bucket when wanted. Dallas does not have sufficient gamers like that, and by limiting its gamers to simply standing within the nook with none motion on the ground, it creates an extremely predictable offense round Doncic. 

We have seen what Dallas’ offense seems like when Doncic is the driving pressure behind actually all of it, and in back-to-back years it has resulted in first-round exits within the playoffs. It is not sustainable for Doncic to have a utilization share of 35 p.c, which ranked second within the league final 12 months, when he is not getting the required assist to generate wins within the common season and within the playoffs. 

Though Slovenia did not finish the Olympics with a medal, their nationwide staff gave Mark Cuban, Nico Harrison and the remainder of Dallas’ entrance workplace a number of tips about how to achieve success with Doncic. Now it is as much as the Mavericks to take that blueprint and put it to good use. | How the Mavericks can be taught from Luka Doncic’s success with Slovenia on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics


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