The enthusiast threesome among NBA media, fans and Luka Doncic went into a frenzy last month of the playoffs. His Dallas Mavericks advanced to Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals before ultimately being ousted by the Golden State Warriors on Thursday night in San Francisco.

By eliminating the Mavs before their Shark Tanker T-shirt owner Mark Cuban, the refrain had been written about this team: They’ve done extremely well to get this far. They don’t have enough help for Luka to fight for a title. The only reason they got this far was the magnificence of their smiling 23-year-old talkative youngster.

Well, I have some issues with this narrative. I don’t disagree with all or even most of them. dallas doesn’t have enough around Doncic to progress further than that. They need a better point guard, more presence around the rim, and could use a more consistent sniper who isn’t an airport beacon of a defensive end target.

But here’s the thing, based on what I’ve seen sometimes in the Phoenix series and especially in the Golden State series and even in his brief post-injury appearance in the Utah series: Doncic’s liabilities don’t negate his assets. He’s a wonderful attacking player whose 1-on-1 movement and ability to play through traffic and contact is as formidable as anything we’ve seen in a long time. But they are waving a red flag on its viability as a championship piece.

He looks like a developing diva to me, another one of those guys that we look back on a decade and say, Man, his Numbers are certainly impressive. But he never had a ring.

I guess that’s a sign that foreign players have really assimilated into American hoops culture. Now we have a Slovenian version of young James Harden: Lots of garish stats. Evidence cited by analytics geeks that he is a team player in his assist numbers. Many groans to the officials. Minimal effort in defense. Stat sheet jam in expired games. What a landmark moment for European basketball.

Of course, some of the guys who own and run franchises aren’t really in it for a title. They would be happy to have it to sell seat licenses, luxury suites and unlimited merchandise. I don’t know if it’s Cuban; I do not think so. But I want the rings, thank you.

Anyway, here are my top four issues with Luka Doncic and why I would actually consider offloading him – for the moon and a few stars, you can be sure – in a shocking blockbuster deal:

1. Its utilization rate is untenable if you want to build an inclusive collective basketball framework.

It’s become fashionable lately to mention Doncic in the same breath as Larry Bird. I see some similarities: Big striker with ball guarding skills. A trick to hitting the fadeaway without much lift. Amazing ability to weave around and through and over defenders with footwork – no jab, no drop, no euro, fake ball, blind passes that see. He has the same kind of hands and feet as Larry Legend.

But he also indulges in something Bird never did: monopolize the balls. Bird was a wonderful player stopped the ball whose best friend was effective influences the moves that opened it. A famous buzzer-drummer he lack against the Lakers in Game 4 of the 1987 playoffs was an example of one of the all-time great off-ball moves, sucking James Worthy down the sideline to a side pass inbounds so he was in front , then reversing his trajectory and protecting the pass as he came back to the touchline for a wide open 20 feet for the win. Pat Riley said he had the best view of Boston Garden and thought it was all the way. Iron. The Lakers hopefully win. (Fast forward to 6:00 p.m. for the final piece.)

That’s exactly the kind of shot Bird always hits and a Doncic too. But the thing is, Doncic could make such moves much more often all over the floor and at all stages of games – if he didn’t always have the ball in his hands. I would rather see Doncic with a defender already sealed on his hip when a pass comes in than force him to fake and fake and run through fixed defenders. Because when he has open shots, he almost never misses. And even when he does, he is usually at fault.

Doncic should have a point guard who gets the ball to him and plays it a lot more often, just like Bird did with Dennis Johnson and Danny Ainge. This is how he maximizes his skills. It might not be Jalen Brunson. Maybe what the Mavs really need is a more dynamic point guard like Kings DeAaron Fox. It could be a project at some point for Dallas general manager Nico Harrison.

2. Show me someone who digs so hard on defense and I’ll show you someone you can’t build a championship culture around.

And I don’t care if he’s young. If you’re ready to devote yourself entirely to defense, you do so at 21. At 18 years old. To 15. It’s in your DNA. What if it took a coach to light a fire under your ass to make it as a 4th grade NBA pro? Your time is up.

Not that I wouldn’t have taken the opportunity on Thursday night. If I had been Jason Kidd and seen that play that led to a Klay Thompson 3-point chair on an uncontested run-out, I would have freaked out on Doncic on the spot.

I would have called time and said really sarcastic things to him. Not in a Bob Knight demonstration to let the crowd know what I was doing. I wouldn’t even look him straight in the eye, to make sure I didn’t show him in front of the cameras. I act like I’m talking to the whole team. But I would address him personally and do it loud enough for all of his teammates to hear. Maybe I should have snatched my TNT mic first, but I would have challenged him in a way he clearly wasn’t used to. He runs to Cuban and says he can’t play for me and they fire me? So be it.

Of course, that’s easy for me to say. Because this stuff happens all the time in the NBA, where the game is built around the players, not the coaches.

3. He doesn’t seem to take care of his body, not exactly setting an example for his less talented teammates.

I’m generally not a fan of this sort of thing. If a guy can play, he doesn’t have to look like Tony Horton. And one doesn’t necessarily have much to do with the other. But when your franchise star looks like a guy from the fitness club playing half court, that’s not exactly inspiring rotation guys doing half or quarter of what ‘It is.

Is it important? I don’t think it’s as much about looks as it is about performance. When Doncic isn’t collapsing to the ground after one of his misses, or running down the field after a bad pass late in the playoffs, why is that? Is it because he’s lazy or playing the diva, or is he just whipped at the end of a long season?

4. Partly because of his lack of conditioning, partly because of his usage rate and his attraction to contact, he will age quickly.

Now consider the Warriors’ big three in contrast, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. All clearly in pristine condition, the kind of guys who flick the switch the moment it goes off and never turn it off until the horn sounds. These guys have lived in heavy traffic their entire careers.

Green has the advantage of a 6-6 physique and 230 pounds. His body looks like one of those crab pots they throw off the boat in Deadliest Take – right angle and steel resistant.

Curry isn’t just the greatest perimeter shooter in the history of the game. He’s arguably its all-time best ball handler, which means he’s constantly working on his fake ball and sneaking through. the tree trunks in the paint and around the blocks. And he never stop moving the ball; that’s how he carries defenders to the limit.

Thompson can’t be the elite defender he was after his debilitating ACL and Achilles tendon injuries. Andrew Wiggins will be that guy for the Warriors going forward. But, he still fights and explodes above the screens. And he always opens up by working hard on the ball, witnessing his big game in the clincher against the Mavs.

All three are well over 30 (34, 32 and 32). None of them were a top-5 draft pick. They got to where they are by developing not only their games but also their bodies.

Otherwise, you don’t last as long at an elite level. Instead, you become James Harden – exhausted, ringless, and somehow pathetic.

And I believe that if he doesn’t understand all of the above very soon, that’s where Luka Doncic is heading.

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