The Dončić Dossier Vol. 5: Khimki Moscow Region

Image: EuroLeague.net

Real Madrid’s four game winning streak in EuroLeague 17/18 came to grinding halt as Khimki Moscow upset Madrid by winning 86-80 in their own building.

For top prospect Luka Dončić, it was a bit of a tough game: 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field, 2-of-6 from three, 4-of-4 from the line, seven rebounds, three assists, three turnovers one steal and a PIR of 18 in 25 minutes of action.

Let’s break it down…

Offense/scoring

It was a tougher game for Dončić when it came to scoring the ball: 12 points on 3-of-10 shooting from the field and 2-of-6 from three, but you can really make that 2-of-4 from three as some shots didn’t really come in the proper flow of the game — a heave from inside in his own half at the end of the first half and a shot at the end of the game when Khimki had already won.

We’ll start as we always do now, I suppose, the three-point shooting…

2-of-6 from (but really 2-of-4) and it all started pretty well, a very simply play where Dončić receives the ball on the left side of the top of the key and steps into a nice rhythm three:

Nice and easy shot here to begin the game for Dončić, not ideal for Khimki to give up a shot like that which is capable of getting Dončić’s confidence going early…

Easy or tough: sometimes it doesn’t matter for Dončić as he hits this tough, contested three:

A little bit behind that three-point line too. Again, showing that extended range…

There was one three-point shot that was absolutely massive in the context of this game:

Game situation: Madrid are trailing by two points with 29 seconds left. If they hit a shot they can tie the game or take the lead with a three, but if they miss they’re chasing the game and in big trouble.

Madrid run a play out of the timeout and it all leads to Facundo Campazzo blowing by Thomas Robinson on a switch. With Dončić calling for the ball behind the three-point line, Campazzo turns down a very easy two underneath the basket with the defense behind him and finds the open Dončić but Luka can’t hit the three and Madrid are forced to foul:

Not the best recognition by Campazzo in that situation — he had a layup right there, not sure why he turned it down — but in saying that it was a great look for Dončić: he has buried many tougher threes than that one and was naturally frustrated with the miss as the game basically slipped away from that point:

This was our first look at Dončić in the clutch with, essentially, the game on the line and he couldn’t pull through on this occasion. Many great players miss shots like this and I’m sure we’ll get another chance to see how Dončić performs in the clutch when the game is on the line — one example is not enough to make a proper judgement of Dončić in the clutch.

It was a shot that, sort of, typified the rest of his evening: tough.

The main reason why Dončić only scored 12 points was because Khimki played great defense, taking away shot opportunities and forcing some tough shots on the ones Dončić did actually take — we’ll, kind of, transition from three-point shooting into Khimki’s defense here with this next clip a blend of the two.

Here, Charles Jenkins does a great job fighting over the screen and sticking with Dončić before contesting his three-point shot which ends in a miss:

No matter what Dončić could do here, he couldn’t shake Jenkins. Great defense.

Some more good defense that limited Dončić… He receives the ball with just over five seconds left on the shotclock — so he’s already being asked to try to salvage a bad situation, so it’s always going to be a tough shot — can’t shed Jenkins, rises to shoot, gets stripped and can’t contest the layup in transition as Jenkins cleverly uses his body as a shield and Dončić can’t do much about this layup:

That three may have gone in if he had got it off, who knows — we’ve seen Dončić hit some wild shots — but he never got the opportunity to find out as he’s stripped. Again, good defense.

Some more good perimeter defense, this time it’s Malcolm Thomas, who doesn’t allow Dončić to penetrate with the dribble. Dončić then picks up his dribble and actually sheds Thomas in the end with a fake and a step-through move but can’t hit the leaner as it rattles in and out:

Nice improvisation by Dončić to turn something out of what seemed like nothing after he picked up his dribble. But the improvisation was forced after Thomas prevented the penetration…

Here was an interesting and nice move to free up some space… Coming off of a screen by Reyes, Dončić gets into the paint with his man trailing him. He backs into him a bit, comes to a stop, jab-steps with his left foot, shows a ball-fake — which everyone in the paint falls for — and rises to take an open shot in the paint:

Here was another good move (we’re transitioning out of the good Khimki D if you couldn’t tell from that last clip where everyone fell for that ball-fake), a move that a veteran NBA player might look to make, particularly a guard: Dončić gets free from his man after the screen from Felipe Reyes, after which he tries to back into his man to create the space, gets inside the paint, shot-fakes to shed his man, rises and draws the foul:

I see this from Dončić and instantly think it’s a less refined version of this move from Ty Lawson (video is timestamped):

(I miss you, Ty Lawson 😦 )

Couple of other tid-bits from this game when it comes to offense ball.

Going back to the transition game, Dončić pushes the ball, gets to the paint, draws the foul on the shot and heads to the free throw line:

Two of four free throws that Dončić earned were earned right here.

Another nice little move that drew a foul: the between the legs dribble to a behind the back dribble to his left:

No free throws here as it was pretty early in the third quarter but a nice move to draw a foul nonetheless. Beautiful.

And one more clip, this time from the post. Dončić went to the post in the fourth quarter, passed out of the first look for a three-point attempt and tried again after the offensive rebound off the miss but couldn’t hit the hook:

Probably would’ve been better off taking the shot in the first post-up but was unselfish in finding a teammate for a good opportunity but didn’t go down. The second post-up wasn’t spectacular, which isn’t what we’ve come to expect from Dončić: he’s pretty decent down there. The first one was the one to try and exploit…

Playmaking/passing

Not as much to talk about here as previous weeks but still a few things to talk about.

Some good Khimki defense forces Dončić to give the ball up. Dončić finds Reyes, who misses the shot just outside the paint but the follow-up is good by Jeffrey Taylor:

A little risky to leave your feet like that when you’re turning around to find a teammate but Dončić found a decent opening for Reyes here — just couldn’t hit the shot.

Again, the transition game is big for Dončić and he got involved with it again vs. Khimki.

Here, he pushes in transition, gets close to the rim and finds a teammate, who gets blocked from behind:

Dončić probably should’ve actually attempted this layup himself but he made the pass and it’s a decent block from behind. Again, Dončić looking to make the pass…

In the third quarter, Dončić grabs the rebound off of the miss, gets his head up early and makes the simple, right play which eventually leads to a basket in transition by Gustavo Ayon:

Just a simple play: getting the head up, making the right play and it leads to something good.

Again, heads up and alert to what’s going on as he rifles a pass to the cutting Causeur, who is blocked inside:

Again, simple, easy: no need for complicated plays, too bad nothing came of it. Though, watching Causeur fly into the paint and get blocked almost immediately was pretty funny…

In the fourth quarter, Dončić gets downhill coming off of the screen from Reyes. He stumbles a bit inside, gets the pass out of traffic to the perimeter for the assist on the made three:

A bit of a weak pass if it wasn’t deflected but it got the job done for the big three-pointer, down seven in the fourth quarter before the three cuts it to four points.

We looked at this clip already, but it’s worth talking about again because it’s something we haven’t really seen yet. Dončić is pretty solid in the post, and most of his shots in the post are pretty good: they either go in or they were the right play/shot to make/take.

Here, Dončić goes to work in the post but chooses to pass out of it rather than attempt a shot himself:

Again, not something we’ve really seen up to this point, so it was interesting to see Dončić do this. It was a good shot in the end he created, just didn’t go down.

Defense

Some really solid stuff from Dončić defensively in this game.

Some solid on-ball D from Dončić keeps James Anderson in front of him after the dribble but unfortunately the shot goes in off of the glass:

Sometimes Dončić’s defensive awareness in help situations has been left wanting somewhat, but this game was definitely a step up from what it has been in previous games.

Here, on the left-wing, Vyacheslav Zaytsev gets into a spot of trouble and turns his back on Campazzo. As he dribbles, turns and faces the court again, he goes to make a pass but Dončić has recognised a possibility for a steal and jumps the passing lane, causing a deflection and eventually a steal:

Smart assessment of a developing situation here and it results in a steal.

A pick-and-roll creates an unfavourable switch with Causeur on Marko Todorovic, who dives to the rim and leaves Causeur behind. The entry pass is made but Dončić is alert to the danger, puts himself between the rim and Todorovic, gets a deflection on the pass and the ball eventually ends up out-of-bounds:

I feel as though in the past Dončić would’ve stuck with his man and this may have been an easy basket for Todorovic, but he made the right defensive play here and Madrid can set up defensively again.

After a score by Jeffrey Taylor, Khimki bring the ball up but the ball-handler is quickly trapped just after he crosses halfcourt by Ayon to the left and Dončić up top (he steps into it very quickly) and a turnover is forced, leading to a score:

A well executed trap by Ayon and Dončić…

For things that Dončić could’ve done better defensively…

Would’ve liked to have seen him contest this shot from Jenkins:

We’ve seen this a few times where Dončić doesn’t contest a shot, he got lucky that this shot missed on this occasion.

In closing vs. Khimki

A tough game for Dončić offensively. Khimki did a good job defensively, either by taking away looks from Dončić and forcing him to look elsewhere or contesting the shots he did launch well. Charles Jenkins did a fantastic job defending him.

Again, you have to remember these are professional players, grown ass men, not college students, and I think Dončić does come into games with somewhat of a target on his back because of his reputation and age.

The perimeter shot looked good, but unfortunate he missed the big three that would’ve given his team the lead. It was a good look too…

Solid game handling passing the ball but his teammates couldn’t take full advantage at times when they got the ball from Dončić — good opportunities were sparse in this game because of Khimi’s defense.

Again, some solid stuff defensively — think there’s a real progression you can see, especially in some help situations, something that was lacking a bit previously. Let’s see how it goes from here.

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