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What if the Dallas Mavericks took more advantage of Luka Dončić’s versatility?

When you have the Swiss army knife of basketball on your team, why only use the knife and the bottle opener, when you know the scissors, the can opener, the screwdriver, the corkscrew, and probably a few others that you haven't even discovered yet, are available?

HAS real MadridLuka Dončić was often used as Before. In the Slovenian national team, he regularly played all three both alongside Goran Dragic, but also last summer without him. What if the Mavericks took advantage of his versatility, and forced defenses to adjust by using him more in spurts?

Luka Dončić is one of the best playmakers in the world. One of the things that makes him so dominant is his command of the game at all levels as well as his height of 6'7 (201 cm).

His time in Madrid and the Slovenia national team has proven that it is by no means an exaggeration to conclude that Luka can play in five positions from the start against most opponents without problems. Dallas is already trying to reduce his usage by having other players take the ball up the court, but what if they embrace Luka Dončić, shooting (or even powering) forward, even more , using it more as a secondary initiator?

If the Dallas Mavericks took advantage of his versatility even more and used him as a right wing for short periods of time, a number of advantages would emerge.

Not only would Dončić avoid taking the ball down the field, but it would exploit many of his other strengths – and more importantly: add a tool to Dallas' toolbox and force defenses to scramble and adjust d back and forth.

This tool, if used correctly, will not only depend on the match, but will also be part of the toolbox of adjustments available in the game.

Among the advantages, this strategy would allow Dončić to display even more, which he does efficiently and at an elite level, when he takes advantage of the lags. (Mismatches would and could be easily tracked through screens and alternating perimeter work).

It would also generate even more catch-and-shoot situations and one-timers, which he has particularly excelled at this season. At the moment it is making 43.4 percent of his shots from three.

Just as importantly, it would reduce Dončić's usage and allow him to save energy on offense for short periods. Opponents have recently chosen not to double Luka, which has led to some stagnation and difficulty scoring at times. When you bring in a new look, it can create new opportunities, catch defenses on their heels, and help create flow. Especially if you are able to switch into the game.

You can even call it a disruption. When you're stuck, trying something new for a short time and going back (and maybe even coming back) can help change the momentum. But this requires adjustments and flexibility in the game, and not all teams are capable of this. Luka Dončić, however, is certainly capable, playing in Madrid and dominating in a European championship, where tactics, strategy and execution are key.

Let's be honest, this kind of thing happens all the time in professional basketball. The offense brings up a new system or tries to introduce something to confuse the defense (like the famous gravitational slingshot used by the Warriors and other teams). But during the long NBA season, teams don't have much time to practice between games and they don't have much time to scout either. However, this changes in the playoffs, when strategy and tactics become the focus of a seven-game series and new moves and counters are made within the game and from game to game, such as a game of 'chess.

In Madrid, Luka played regularly as a winger, being listed as a power forward or shooting forward during his final two years there.

At times he took over as a point guard, playmaker and iso-ing when needed, but due to his height advantage, using him as a wing was an important strategy for Real. They needed him for his size under the basket, both rebounding and on defense – as well as displaying mismatches.

Like here against Baskonia in 2018 during a video by Greg's CourtThis is Gregor Sevšek, where we see Dončić working the wing, cutting back door and using his size in the wing paint, as well as catching and shooting threes.

(Note: Notice how Dončić's free throws are much more automatic and not wobbly, inconsistent or short, as they often have been in recent years. Part of the reason is that his body composition has changed , which changes your shot, but it's a fascinating contrast).

The following video is about Dončić's first year after his first team debut (2016-17). Here you can really see how he often played without the ball early on, even receiving an alleyoop. His defense also stands out.

In Madrid, however, they had several competent ball handlers, such as Sergio Llull, Rudy Fernandez, Campazzo or Jaycee Carroll.

Alongside Goran Dragic in the national team, Dončić also played regularly against all three. When Dragic retired and Slovenia lacked size, he played three on occasion for the same reasons as in Madrid. Also as a secondary initiator on the wing, letting Klemen Prepelic or another goalkeeper take the ball and initiate. Again, this allowed Dončić to use his size to post up and rebound and reduced his usage.

I want to be clear that permanently playing one of the best point guards in the world as a winger would be crazy. But the argument for playing him in short three-man spurts to exploit some of his other strengths and force defenses to adjust is not the case.

For a team that rarely adjusts in the game and at times clearly lacks offensive options, this could be a golden opportunity. If Luka Dončić could use his size more, save some energy, and confuse defenses (not just by standing in the corner, but creating from the wing and posting up), Dallas would have another tool available in their box somewhat limited tools.

It would be less tiring for Luka, it would play to his strengths, his size and his skills under the basket, but he could still use his passing and his vision from the wing.

However, there are some negative points. It's not something that can't be remedied, but it's worth noting: there are only two other players on the team who could replace him at point guard, make plays and create at the level needed: Dante Exum and Kyrie Irving. And one of them seems to prefer to play off the ball (Kyrie).

Wouldn't it work for longer periods, but in small spurts? Absolutely.

Confuse defenses, force adjustments and put less pressure on Luka? No doubt about it.

Not enough is said about Luka Dončić being able to play among the top five positions in the best basketball league in the world. And maybe it's time for Dallas to use all the weapons in its arsenal rather than just a few.

After all, when you have a Swiss army knife on your team, you might as well try all the tools available. As Swiss Army Knife™ likes to say (and I quote their website here):

“Combining expert craftsmanship and intelligent functionality, our Swiss-made knives offer smart solutions in every situation. Whether you're facing the extraordinary or navigating everyday life, the Swiss Army Knife™ ensures you're always prepared.

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