The Dončić Dossier Vol 10 — vs. Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade

Image: Pedro Castillo

After a quick return to winning ways was doused by Panathinaikos last time out, it was another narrow defeat for Real Madrid at home against Belgrade on December 1st.

For Luka Doncic, it was a much better outing this time around with 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting, 2-of-5 from three, 4-of-4 from the free throw line, three rebounds, five assists, two turnovers and a PIR rating of 32 in 29 minutes coming off of the bench.


A much better game offensively for Doncic with better shot selection and much better efficiency — 20 points, 7-of-11 shooting and 2-of-5 from three.

Doncic’s three-point shooting was much better in this game: the attempts were reigned in and they  were just better looking/higher quality shots.

In the first quarter, Doncic moves off of the ball to the left-wing, gets free thanks to a screen across the lane, receives the ball and goes right then goes to his left (using the momentum of the trailing defender to Doncic’s advantage) and rises into the three-pointer:



In transition, Doncic trails the play — with Rudy Fernandez handling — and springs into the play as the trailer and hits the three off of the pass from Rudy:



Again, just five three-point attempts — I think that’s a really good thing, and one of those attempts was a heave inside his own half at the end of the first quarter so, really, you could say he shot 2-of-4 from three.

There were some nice variety to Doncic’s scoring in this game.

Here, he makes the run off-ball (his defender completely losing him), goes behind the Felipe Reyes screen and steps in for the easy J:



Off of a miss, Doncic steams in transition and finds himself well down the court before the ball is, having contested a three-point and had began to set off down the court in the event of a miss. As he streaks, the ball is outletted to him and he goes up and dunks it home:


People knock Doncic because they say he’s ‘unathletic’ when that isn’t the case. He’s not explosive by any means but he’s definitely not unathletic. He’s sneakily athletic and because other parts of his game are much more refined than other prospects his age, he doesn’t have to rely on it or go to it the whole time like others have to.

Continuing the trend of offensive variety, Doncic mixes it up on the glass, gets in front of the defender and draws the foul and free throws:


Off of the drive, Doncic pulls up on a dime and hits free throw line J, despite the late contest of the help defender:


Doncic didn’t dip into his post game until the fourth quarter, using it to draw the foul and get to the free throw line here:



Five assists and just two turnovers for Doncic in this game: a much more controlled game (in all aspects really, not just when it came to playmaking).

Unlike Panathinaikos, Belgrade didn’t throw bodies at Doncic at every opportunity, really only doing so once off of the pick-and-roll. When it happened, the pass Doncic threw inside was a little risky but ended up working out for the assist:


Again, a little risky but it got there in the end…

Elsewhere when it comes to playmaking, Doncic, again working the transition game as he often does, finds Chasson Randle on the wing for three:


In the third quarter, Doncic fires (what is effectively…) a half court pass to Fabien Causeur, who finds Edy Tavares for the basket:


That’s a sweet pass, perfectly weighted.

There was one turnover, however, that had a massive bearing on this outcome of this game…

Down one point with 36+ seconds remaining in the game with possession of the ball. Doncic tries to take Pero Antic off of the dribble but Antic does a great job to stick with him. Doncic kills his dribble and — it’s hard to tell — he either loses the ball or the attempted pass is caught… Either way, the result is a turnover and Belgrade go the other way and Pero Antic scores the final and decisive bucket to end any hopes of a Madrid victory:


Again, not sure if it was a pass or not but just a horrible time for a turnover to occur. Big shot by Antic though…

If it was a pass, I really like how Doncic looked to pass in that situation with the game and clock are finely strung as they were. Hard to tell, though…


Some really solid stuff from Doncic defensively. Nothing ground breaking or elite but just solid.

He had some good contests:



In previous insalments, we’ve looked at a number of instances where Doncic just doesn’t contest a shot but there was none of that here.

In the past, Doncic hasn’t always been a willing help defender, often watching as the play develops on the defensive end. Here though, he makes the effort to come over and challenge this dunk at the rim:


Even if his contest/help was late and didn’t ultimately affect the shot, he still saw the danger and went to go do something about it.

And, again, more solid stuff defensively as Doncic does a good job moving his feet and prevents the offensive player from penetrating:


Again, this is nothing groundbreaking but it’s just solid.

In closing vs. Belgrade…

Just a much better game from Doncic, probably in every single facet.

Offensively, he was in control. He selected better shots, rhythm shots, picked his spots a lot wiser… The fact he wasn’t faced with intense defensive pressure every two seconds as he was against Panathinaikos really helped him just flow in this game.

A nice variety in offense: mid-range, perimeter, free throws, transition…the usual that we’ve come to expect of Doncic. Not as much pick-and-roll action in this game compared to previous games. There is still no Gustavo Ayon (Madrid really suffer when he’s not around) and we didn’t see as much of Edy Tavares in this game. We know Doncic likes to operate the pick-and-roll but wasn’t much there this game.

Not a whole lot different when it comes to playmaking: looking for others and putting them in positions where they have a chance to succeed. The end-game turnover was unfortunate, however…

And defensively, look, nothing amazing and world-beating but he was definitely a positive defensively in this game — no one looked to really attack him often and when he was, Doncic was up to the task.

The Dončić Dossier Vol: 7 — @ Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz


After suffering two defeats in a row, things didn’t get any better for Real Madrid as they were thrashed by 30 points (105-75) against Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz in Vitoria, Spain on November 14th.

For top prospect Luka Dončić it was a better outing than the previous game as he scored 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting, 2-of-7 from three, 6-of-6 from the free throw line, four assists, two rebounds, one turnover and a PIR of 19 in just 22 minutes of action.

Dončić was limited in this game in two regards. One was that he came off the bench in this game having started every other game bar the EuroLeague opener against Efes. The other was that given the blowout nature of the game, Dončić appeared very briefly in the beginning of the fourth quarter and that was it. As a result, he played just 22 minutes. In a close game, he’s playing nearly 27-28 minutes.


He has had better nights offensively but still not too shabby of a performance from Dončić: 18 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field, 2-of-7 from three and 6-of-6 from the free throw line.

Let’s start with three-point shooting…

2-of-7 isn’t fantastic but you can instantly discount one of those: a halfcourt heave that was taken at the end of the first quarter. So, really, it’s 2-of-6, which is a bit better…

Let’s look at a few of these, shall we?

In transition, Dončić is found behind the three-point line. He waits for the defense to close out on him before driving inside. Dončić fires a pass back out behind the three-point line before fading behind the three-point line on the weak-side himself. While he does that, the ball is worked to Anthony Randolph in the corner and Randolph backs his man down in the post. Dončić finds himself open and is found by Randolph on the perimeter. Dončić has to adjust (the pass a little to his right) and bring the ball across him but still hits the three-pointer:

Stroke is looking fine on that shot…

Here, a very difficult shot… Edy Tavares’ screen doesn’t really make great contact with Jordan McRae and doesn’t give Dončić the separation he needs. Dončić sizes up McRae somewhat, goes right-to-left with the dribble before rising and hitting the contested three-pointer:

Tough shot there, good defense from McRae — not much more you can do defensively there.

Let’s look at a few of these misses…

In the pick-and-roll, Dončić goes to his right and hops into a three-pointer but the shot is off:

Not a bad shot, to be fair. The man originally defending Dončić off of the screen actually left him just as Dončić rises for the shot — it just didn’t go down.

Here we see Dončić in a catch-and-shoot situation, but can’t connect from outside:

And when things got bad:


2-of-7 from three isn’t great, at the end of the day and these less than ideal percentages from three that we’ve seen from Luka of late are a tad concerning…

We saw Dončić, as he often has in prior games, go to his post game and he went to it again in this game.

Marcelo Huertas was the main victim as Dončić got position on him on a few occasions:

A foul is called and a trip to the line for Dončić on this occasion, two of six attempts at the line for Dončić in this game.

Here, Trey Thompkins goes to set a cross screen for Dončić, who gets to a favourable spot on the block and he goes to work on Huertas for the bucket:

The late help D isn’t enough to deter Dončić on this occasion…

We didn’t see Dončić push in transition as often as he has done in previous games in an effort to search for his own offense, the only real case of him earning some points out of a transition opportunity was when he was fouled on a dunk/layup (perhaps?) attempt, and even then it was off of a steal:

As you could probably imagine, Dončić was involved in a lot of screens/pick-and-rolls, so let’s look at some.

Here, Dončić comes off of a screen, curls and cuts to the rim but isn’t found:

I liked the movement here by Dončić but nothing came of it on this occasion.

Next, to begin the second quarter, Dončić comes off of a screen, gets downhill and extends to finish at the rim:

Bad time for the defense to shade back to his man on the wing, it opened the lane right up for Dončić to get to the rim.

The second half saw quite a number of Dončić-Tavares pick-and-roll actions (again, no Gustavo Ayon in this game). Here, off of the Tavares screen, Dončić gets to the free throw line, hesitates somewhat before continues his attack and draws contact which leads to a foul and free throws:

As with pretty much all games with any player, it wasn’t all perfect offensively. There were a few things you’d like to see done a little better.

There’s usually that possession or two a game from Dončić where he just goes into tunnel vision and seems to forget his teammates exist.

Here, a lot of dribbling from Luka (he is momentarily trapped, but not much) before he steps inside from the corner three-point line and flips a shot home as the shotclock is about to expire:

A nice execution of the flip shot but a lot of dribbling to get there (perhaps I’m being a bit harsh with this one).

However, this next clip is very, very bad:

There were more than enough opportunities to pass off to a teammate (and just one was enough in this situation), Campazzo was also wide open before being covered off. Just a horrible possession…

Again, those are few and far between but when they come they’re usually pretty bad.


Dončić dished out four assists in this game and was his usual self in creating opportunities for his teammates.

We’ll start with the pick-and-roll.

Here, Dončić and Tavares link up for a pick-and-roll. Rudy Fernandez really opens up this play as he flashes across the lane, leaving the defender of Campazzo (who’s placed in the corner) is stuck between a rock and a hard place: to stay with his man or to focus on the cutting Fernandez (and the reason why Fernandez is left open to wander freely is because his man has shown on the Edy-Dončić pick-and-roll). In the end, he does neither, and Dončić skips the pass to the corner to the open Campazzo who hits the three:

Really liked this play and how the movement of Fernandez opened up this opportunity.

Next, Dončić and Tavares link up in the two-man game. Dončić sees a lot of bodies as he gets closer to the rim and finds Tavares with a pass that most big probably wouldn’t reach but because Edy is a behemoth and super long he can reach it, elevate slightly and scores the hoops and the harm — and-1:

Maybe he purposely delivered that pass a little long because he knew that Tavares can just reach a pass like that because he’s that long? I’m sure it’s possible…

After a screen and re-screen with Tavares, Dončić turns the corner and skips it out to the weakside corner. The extra pass is made and a good shot opportunity comes of it but it doesn’t fall:

It didn’t result in a basket but that’s a nice pass from Dončić.

Baskonia didn’t show off of as many pick-and-rolls as some previous teams did, but the one they did show off of Dončić was able to slip a nice bounce-pass inside for this assist:

While the transition game didn’t result in a lot of points for Dončić himself, he did make things happen for others.

Off of a Baskonia miss, Dončić surveys his options in transition. He spots the open Rudy Fernandez and finds him for the transition three:

Next (and this was probably my favourite play from Luka in this game), this fantastic, near full-court outlet pass — after grabbing the rebound — to Anthony Randolph and it eventually leads in a made basket — credit Dončić with the secondary assist:

Love the quick recognition and then the execution of this pass.


As is usually the case, Dončić had his good and bad moments defensively in this game. He’s never really going to wow you and he’s probably never going to be a lockdown defender but that’s OK — as long as he’s adequate he’ll be fine and he’ll probably struggle in the NBA at first but I think he’ll be fine eventually.

Here, Dončić does a good job to extend the defensive pressure on the ball and delay the entry pass to Jaycee Carroll’s man on the wing. Dončić keeps the opposition’s options limited as the help defender and the resulting shot catches nothing but air:

Here was a good contest on a three-point attempt that misses:

As for stuff you’d like to see him do better defensively, there’s a few things (and a lot of these things can/will be taught at the next level)…

Here, a miscommunication between Dončić and his teammates leads to a three-pointer for Baskonia:

I’m assuming the man in the corner was ‘supposed’ to be Dončić’s man and he’s pointing to a teammate to cover the most immediate threat in Beaubois, but Dončić will have to recognise that sometimes he’ll have to step up in that situation.

Here, perhaps you’d like to see Dončić get a hand in there and see if he can create a steal or kill the dribble… something — not just stand there with his back against the ball as it’s being pounded:

In the NBA, you can bet coaches will be working on this — it does have to change.

And, of course, there’s that one shot per game where Dončić just doesn’t contest a shot:

You get, seemingly, at least one of these a game and, it too, will be something NBA coaches will stamp out of him very quickly…

In closing vs. Baskonia…

Hard to read a whole lot into this game from Dončić…

By the time he checked into the game it was already a 19-5 game and got out of hand very quickly as Baskonia just hit absolutely everything (shooting over 61% from the field and 43% from three) and they routed Madrid, leaving Dončić’s minutes limited.

Still, Dončić was an overall positive in this game as he always is. He made things happen offensively, particularly in the post where he took advantage of the smaller Huertas and in the pick-and-roll.

Again, some nice passing/playmaking from Dončić — cracking outlet pass to Randolph, that really was great. Not as great as some previous games when it comes to playmaking, mind you, but still solid. Better than any Madrid point guard in this one and by a considerable margin.

In general, the pick-and-roll play with Edy Tavares was fun to watch and was pretty effective both for Dončić and Tavares themselves and, at times, their teammates too.

Defensively, he was fine. Not a complete liability, and though there were things you wish he didn’t do, Jordan McRae (who is a solid offensive player) didn’t exactly have a field day against Dončić either.

I guess for Dončić’s standards — or the standard we’ve come to expect of him — it was a ‘so-and-so’ game.

The Dončić Dossier Vol. 6: @ Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv


After a defeat to Khimki Moscow last time out, Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv made it two losses in a row for Real Madrid in Israel as they lost 90-83.

For Luka Dončić, it was another difficult outing shooting 5-of-14 from the field and 2-of-7 from three but did manage to score 19 points, shot 7-of-8 from the free throw line, grabbed six rebounds, dished out six assists, grabbed a steal and posted a PIR of 30 in a season-high 32 minutes.


A bit of a difficult game for Dončić offensively: 19 points but 5-of-14 shooting from the field and 2-of-7 from three — a lot of those three-point attempts coming in the fourth quarter.

Let’s start with the things that Dončić did well but looking at how he struggled.

Again, starting with three-point shooting, this wasn’t a bad way to begin the game: hitting the deep three-pointer:

That is legitimate NBA range, and we’ve seen already that this is in Dončić’s arsenal.

Coming off of a screen, Dončić goes to his right, rises and hits a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter:

Great screen by Felipe Reyes — it really helps when you make proper contact with your man on the screen as Reyes did here, and this freed up Dončić the space he needed to get this shot away.

Going away from the three-point shooting for now, a strong drive from Dončić and the large crowd in the paint doesn’t deter him as he makes this layup near the end of the first half:

Dončić got to the free throw line on eight occasions in this game, here’s how he drew three of them:

One more positive thing to look at was this possession:

Dončić receives the ball after the interior pass by Randolph, leaping over the shorter John DiBartolomeo and catching the ball. Dončić ball-fakes inside to shed the help defender but misses the point-blank layup and can’t get the tip to go:

Very nice fake, and that’s a made layup nine times out of 10… Just not this one…

Alright, now to look at why Dončić was only 5-of-14 shooting from the field…

In the last game I talked about how Dončić comes into these games with a target on his back and this game was probably the best showcase for that: he was swamped in this game by Tel Aviv’s defense.

There were so many examples of Tel Aviv really extending the defensive pressure and throwing bodies at Dončić — and some of them we’ll cover in the next section because it was part of the reason Dončić had six assists — but we’ll look at a few now.

Here, Dončić sees a lot of pressure off of the pick-and-roll and this prevents him turning the corner. With the shotclock winding down, Dončić then puts up a tough shot that doesn’t go down:

Near the end of the first quarter, Dončić again sees a lot of pressure coming off the pick-and-roll and left with not a lot of options or than to pass the ball to a teammate. Anthony Randolph can’t get a shot away and gives up to Dončić, who also can’t find a shot opportunity and passes it off to Campazzo with just over a second remaining on the shotclock, and Campazzo has to heave in desperation:

In the second half, this play takes way too long to develop and it leads to, again, a very aggressive hedge off of the screen and Dončić’s attempted pass inside is deflected. At this stage, the clock is low and Dončić tries to go one-on-one and it’s a very tough shot taken in the end:

You get the general idea (and we’ll look at how Dončić found some looks for his teammates following this type of pressure): it was a very tough going for Dončić. He gets defense’s best shot and their full attention, which is tough for an 18 year old to deal with.  To score 19 points anyways was pretty impressive, all things considered.


A bit more passing/facilitating in this game from Dončić — six assists — and a lot of that had to do with him having to give the ball up because of the defensive pressure he saw/what the defensive pressure opened for others.

Here, Tel Aviv kind of ICE this action with Dončić and Randolph except it’s not executed perfectly as the person who’s supposed to be shading over to Randolph, Pierre Jackson, doesn’t quite fully get to him and comes off of him too quickly and the result is a three-pointer for Randolph:

Off of the screen, Tel Aviv hedge Dončić again and he’s put in a tough predicament. After picking up his dribble, Dončić finds Chasson Randle behind the three-point line, but Randle’s three is too long:

Better execution defensively this time by Tel Aviv: that’s who you want taking shots instead of Luka Dončić.

Again, Tel Aviv throw bodies at Dončić and he’s forced to make a decision. He makes the right pass to Randolph in the paint, but Randolph is quickly swarmed and he gives it up to Jaycee Carroll, who should probably pass it back out to Dončić but instead takes a tough shot:

The right pass to make from Dončić but really good execution defensively by Tel Aviv to prevent a basket here.

Moving on to other ways of facilitating without basically being forced to…

We saw Dončić pass out of the post recently and we saw more of it in this game.

Here, Dončić receives the entry pass on the block, turns and fires a very complicated pass to the weak-side corner to Taylor, who collects the pass and misses the three:

A bit of a tough pass to handle but the vision here is top notch — difficult pass to make and it did ultimately lead to a good opportunity.

Again in the post, Dončić backs down and passes to the weak-side, to Campazzo, who takes a dribble, passes it off and Reyes scores inside:

Moving on, here was a very nice bit of vision from Dončić, knowing exactly what he’s going to do with it as soon as he gets it by making this interior pass to Randolph who scores inside:

Great awareness, seeing the play unfold before he makes the pass.

After a miss, Dončić grabs the rebound, heads up the floor, turns on the jets, whips out a beautiful behind-the-back move before whizzing the ball to Taylor in the corner. Taylor misses the three but Dončić is on hand to grab the offensive rebound and draws the foul, leading to free throws:

Probably the highlight of Dončić’s game, to be fair. Could he have attempted the layup himself? Probably, but he saw what he thought was a better opportunity in the corner in Taylor…

Normally, we see Dončić get his head down in transition to try to make something happen: whether it’s for himself or for others.

Here, we see Dončić take his time to survey the scene before making the right pass to Campazzo for an open three-point opportunity which misses:

Nice, patient play by Dončić here: didn’t rush it and made the right play. Shame Campazzo couldn’t make the shot on this occasion.

Off of a Tel Aviv miss, Dončić quickly outlets to Randolph, who is at the other end of the court. This basket didn’t count as Dončić was barreled into before the basket and shot free throws instead:

Mainly to show off the outlet pass, really…

And lastly, a nice interior bounce-pass after the pick-and-roll to find Reyes, who scores using glass:


Few things to talk about as always here, some good stuff again from Dončić.

On this possession, Dončić does a good job to get back in front of his man after a screen separates him and then gets a contest up on the shot that still falls:

Good defense but just better offense here… Good to see Dončić fight to get back in the play…

Some good vertical defense here from Dončić as he stays in front of DeShaun Thomas off of the dribble and the shot from Thomas is off:

You can also see Dončić’s versatility and ability to switch defensively, and that definitely helps.

Here we see a little more switching and more solid awareness. After a pick-and-roll, Dončić steps into the gap and into the path of the ball-handler before falling back and switching underneath the basket:

A score here for Thomas in the end but it had nothing really to do with Dončić…

And Dončić did something similar again defensively a few possessions later: switches on the pick-and-roll and prevents the penetration inside by Michael Roll, who is forced to pass to the perimeter and that perimeter shot is off:

This has probably been the game we’ve seen the most switching from Dončić defensively.

There were a few concerns from this game, however…

DeShaun Thomas caused a number of issues for Dončić in this game, off of the dribble for one:

In the post:

And beaten to the spot on the right block, where he can catch, spin and score:

Yeaaah… DeShaun Thomas was definitely a problem for Dončić in this game.

And, look, it bears repeating that these are grown ass men Dončić has to face: their bodies are more developed for the professional game at age 25, 26 etc… Dončić is only 18. Now, that doesn’t excuse all of the defensive shortcomings but it’s worth remembering…

In closing vs. Tel Aviv…

A tough offensive game for Dončić and Tel Aviv knew what they wanted to do: throw bodies at him, ensure he doesn’t turn the corner on pick-and-rolls and force him to give it up someone else and make others make shots.

And it was executed very well.

Dončić was able to get to the free throw line often to help make up for his struggles from the field and this wave of defensive pressure allowed him to set up others for opportunities that, really, should’ve been taken advantage of but his teammates couldn’t always get it done (missing Gustavo Ayon in this one did not help).

Despite all of that, Dončić still registered a game-high PIR of 30 which is still hugely impressive.

Defensively, up and down for Luka — had good moments at times and had some meh moments… Some decent awareness stuff though, stuff that wasn’t there to begin the season so that’s encouraging going forward…

The Dončić Dossier Vol. 5: Khimki Moscow Region


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…


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…


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.


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.