Luka Doncic keeps demonstrating he's the real deal in the NBA after his recent performances in the bubble. The Slovenian player has been just great for the Mavericks in Orlando, unleashing all his powers against Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. Doncic went off on the best defense in the league with a triple-double of 36 points, 19 assists, and 14 rebounds.
Those 19 assists were a career-high for him, he facilitated the game for his teammates, setting them up for open 3s, easy layups and more. Doncic is a great scorer but he's also demonstrated he's a very good passer in the league. Bill Simmons talked about Doncic on his podcast (38:45 mark), explaining what makes Luka's passes so special. Other players can record multiple assists every night, but this kid brings something different to the game.
Simmons discussed with Ryen Russillo if Doncic was the modern day Larry Bird and even though he didn't go too far, he did say Doncic's passing skills remind him of Larry.
"The thing with Luka is the assists aren't, like, cheap assists. He has the typical James Harden type of assist, where he brings the second guy over and hits the guy in the corner, the cross-court, all the stuff he's doing to get guys open threes. But he's also creating these cutter passes. Guys learn how to play with him and they're more active, more engaged."
It looks like Simmons is implying Harden's assists are 'cheap'. If you compare them to what Luka does, they're not the same but that doesn't mean one has more value than the other. Harden knows when and where to find his teammates to make baskets and get the assists. The only difference here is that Doncic often does more difficult things to pass the ball, his vision is better than Harden and that's it.
It's part of their game and that can't change. Doncic is used to making those passes since he was in Europe and that won't change now that he's in the NBA.