A month after his Dallas Mavericks were eliminated by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals, Luka Dončić still hasn’t had a day off. He’s playing for the Slovenian national team, and he doesn’t look like someone who scored 28 points in that May 26 knockout.
Slovenia played a friendly match against Italy on Saturday. Dončić scored 12 points, 5 assists and 7 rebounds in a 90-71 win. He did a lot outstanding effort, but his performance is not the story of this game. The story is a picture in which Dončić looks like his diet consists of nothing but pure protein and that he has been lifting weights non-stop for the past 30 days.
There are two major concerns with Dončić’s game. They are his protection and his season conditioner. Slovenia lost the bronze medal match at the Olympics on 7 August 2021, and Dončić still showed up at the Mavericks training camp in late September out of shape. It took him about a month of regular season play to become the silhouette of the NBA, and he even admitted in December that he needs to do even better.
The picture taken of him on Saturday looks like he’s had the most successful one-month off-season in professional sports history. However, that photo was in a promotional package for a movie release. The light hit him perfectly as he made his way to the bench after some time on the field. If I worked at the Mavericks box office, that picture would be on everything I send in terms of all renewals to season ticket holders and in all the emails I send to people who bought a single-match ticket to try and ask them to buy a larger package.
While Dončić is clearly in better shape, he hasn’t had enough time to slim down to Nikola Jokić’s level and add a muscular look. In other offseason images His face looks smaller and his arms are definitely firmer. He’s a lot leaner than he was during the NBA season, but he’s still not built up like the instructor coach Peloton.
Not only is he thinner than he was in the off-season, though, when Slovenia was getting ready for the FIBA World Cup qualifying competition, he looked completely different than he did last year in the Olympics. By then, he was out of shape, leading Slovenia in the first round of the penalty box against the United States in the gold medal match. Dončić is certainly nowhere near the 260 pounds he is reported to have arrived at weight training camp a month later, but his face looks much difference afterward.
The 2022-23 season will be Dončić’s fifth season in the NBA. He’s tasted a playoff win for the first time, and maybe that – and a bit of an embarrassment from the start of last season – is just what he needs to take another step forward as one of the top players. best in the tournament. His talent is undeniable, but as good as he is, in the NBA talent can only bring a player to a certain point. Stephen Curry showed in this post-season NBA what a great conditioning program can do. He has completely transformed his body from not being able to hold the basketball jersey on his shoulders, to using those shoulders to absorb contact and being able to defend himself against players with a larger circumference. Curry can do all of that and still score three goals at the end of the game, at the end of the season and later in his career.
It’s the step all players must take when they want to make the transition from great to all-time great. Dončić shows up well on his way in June, let’s see how he looks in September.