In today's NBA, being able to shoot from beyond the arc is one of the most important attributes a player can have.
Unfortunately, one of the NBA's best players, young star Luka Doncic, is having an extraordinarily tough time staying efficient from range. Shooting just 28% from three this season, he's well below the average for players of his caliber and doing worse than notoriously bad shooters, like Washington's Russell Westbrook (33.3%) and Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.3%). For his career, Doncic is shooting just 31.8%.
Doncic entered the league shooting .327 from distance. Not great but passable for an electrifying 19-year-old rookie. That number dipped to .316 last season and, for 2020-21, it sat at .287 entering Saturday’s game. He ranked 163rd in the league, a few slots behind Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo who is barely treading water when it comes to learning the outside shot.
Doncic’s career three-point percentage is .318. Want some comparisons with the game’s other great scorers?
The Lakers’ LeBron James shoots .345 from three-point range. Brooklyn’s James Harden (that feels weird to type) is at .363. Portland’s Damian Lillard checks in at .373. Harden’s Brooklyn teammate Kevin Durant is at .382.
Russell Westbrook’s career number is .305. The former MVP that every defense is thrilled to see pull up and shoot from outside rather than attack the basket is a lot closer to Doncic as a three-point shooter (and better this season at .333) than Doncic is to Harden or Lillard or all the rest.
The Mavericks have struggled greatly this season, starting 8-11 and sitting at 13th in the West. Even Doncic himself has expressed his disappointment with the current situation.
Between their defensive liabilities and the young star's poor shooting from three, it's clear that the team has some serious issues to work out before they can hope to compete for a title.
In the meantime, the world will continue to watch Doncic, and see whether or not his struggles are just a fluke or a sign of something he will continue to struggle with.
For the Mavs' sake, they better hope it's the former.