Luka Doncic
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Possessing a generational offensive talent while owning a deep bag of basketball tricks, it appears that Luka Doncic may already have it all. But amid these wonders he whirls around on a nightly basis, he is still being criticized for his defensive reputation.

But on Friday, Doncic himself made it known that this weakness being thrown at him is now making major progress.

“People are not going to admit it, but I think this year I’ve really taken a big step,” he said about his defense, via Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News. “I don’t need people to believe; I believe in myself. I think I’ve been playing defense way better than the first four years and I think I’ve taken a huge step forward.”

As pointed out by Townsend, Doncic literally had a great jump on his defensive identity by the numbers. League-wide, his deflections per game (3.3) ranks ninth, his steals average (1.8) is planted at fourth, defensive win shares (1.0) are tied at fourth-best, and his loose balls recovered (1.4) stand as the highest this season.

Doncic gives credit to his mindset turnaround that he made which prompted him to perform better. The Dallas Mavericks sensation acknowledged his rough beginnings last season as motivation.

“The start of last season for me was very bad,” he said. “I was out of shape. It just wasn’t me. I didn’t play good. So I took that as a motivation for this season.”

Doncic’s defensive improvement can only contribute to his ongoing case of a potential MVP season, as he is averaging video game numbers of 34.0 points, 9.0 boards, and 8.1 assists in 50.3 percent shooting so far for the 9-8 Mavs.