One NBA scout reportedly called Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic the worst transition defender in the history of basketball.
“I did have a scout tell me he’s the worst transition defender in the history of basketball,” Tim MacMahon said on The Lowe Post. “When he said that, I thought he had analytical evidence. I’m like, ‘Statistically?’ And he goes, ‘No, just watch him.’”
It’s quite the comment to make about one of the league’s biggest stars, but it seems more like an opinion from the scout than an actual statistical argument. Either way, it’s not a great label to have following the former first-round pick.
Doncic is without a doubt one of the league’s most talented players on offense, but he may take a little more criticism than he deserves on the defensive end. He has often been called out by fans and members of the press for a lack of effort on defense. Beyond that, though he is incredibly skilled, he is not overly athletic. That sometimes makes defensive assignments more difficult.
While Doncic isn’t going to blow anyone out of the water with his defensive ability, he isn’t a complete liability on that end of the floor.
As for Doncic’s transition defense, the scout seems to think that he doesn’t do much to slow down his opponents. Despite that, the Mavericks All-Star is still one of the most valuable players in the NBA.
This season, Doncic is averaging 32.8 points, 8.7 rebounds and 8.1 assists per game while shooting 49.6 percent from the field and 34.9 percent from beyond the arc.
Dallas, which currently sits outside of the play-in tournament field in the Western Conference as the No. 11 seed, has struggled to win games even with Doncic’s All-NBA caliber season.
As a team, Dallas is below average defensively, ranking 23rd in the league in defensive rating. However, the team as a whole isn’t terrible in transition, ranking 13th in the league in opponent fast break points allowed per game.
It will be interesting to see if Doncic can grow as a defender as his career continues to change this one scout’s perception of his game.