For the second straight season, Luka Doncic has gotten off to a slow start (by his own standards, he’s still scoring 25.5 points a game, but that is down from season ago and he is shooting 32.5% from 3). He seems to be rounding into form as the season moves along, but the consistency is not there.
For the second straight season — and despite his play for Slovenia in the Tokyo Olympics — this has led to questions about Doncic’s conditioning. According to Tim McMahon of ESPN, Doncic showed up to Mavericks training camp 30 pounds above his listed playing weight. After losing to the Nets on Tuesday, Doncic admitted he needs to focus more on his conditioning. Again via McMahon of ESPN.
“People are going to talk about it, yes or no,” said Doncic, who had 28 points, six rebounds and nine assists in the loss. “I know I’ve got to do better…
“I had a long summer,” said Doncic… “I had the Olympics, took three weeks off, and I relaxed a little bit. Maybe too much. I’ve just got to get back on track.”
Doncic is 22.
We’ve seen this pattern a lot around the NBA: Players enter the league at age 19/20 from college/overseas, where their natural talent and athleticism were more than enough. Plus, their young metabolisms could overcome less-than-ideal workout habits, too much pizza, and some late-night Taco Bell runs (like we all did back in the day). Then a few years in, as their bodies age and those players look at what it will take to reach their next level — and to get the paydays that come with it — they realize conditioning and what they eat play a huge role. Suddenly they get religion on fitness, their diet cleans up, and they find another gear.
Doncic may be coming to that conditioning realization. For him, the next level is MVP awards and championships, but if he looks at the conditioning of the guys at that level now — LeBron James is a workout fiend, but Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry live in the gyn, Chris Paul went vegan and had a renaissance — he will see what it takes.
Doncic will get there. Eventually.