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Dallas Mavericks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Luka Dončić Shines as Series’ Best Player in 2024 NBA Finals

The Dallas Mavericks dominated the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday, securing their spot in the NBA Finals Amid the rush to elevate Anthony Edwards as the league’s future; Luka Doncic seems to have been forgotten. This oversight is somewhat understandable given Doncic’s longer tenure in the league, where skepticism has naturally set in, compared to Edwards’ ‘honeymoon period’—a stage where flaws haven’t yet been scrutinized or fabricated.

We’ve questioned Doncic’s ball-dominant style despite his undeniable performance. Criticizing Edwards for not yet being the go-to star on a championship-caliber team, especially one with offensive struggles, is not controversial. He’s only 22 with four years of professional play under his belt.

Given his potential, Edwards could probably already be the captain of a championship team if he had better offensive teammates. Karl-Anthony Towns’ poor performance this series underscores this, as Minnesota’s highly-ranked defense couldn’t withstand the offensive prowess of Doncic and Kyrie Irving. Great offense often outperforms great defense.

Doncic is still far ahead of Edwards regarding offensive leadership against any opponent, in any situation. Having Irving as a dynamic partner is a luxury Edwards doesn’t have, but even aside from this, Doncic remains consistently effective. Minnesota’s various defensive strategies against him were futile. Doncic has faced such defenses so many times that he seemingly operates on autopilot.

In stark contrast, Edwards struggled under the heightened attention in these playoffs. He was often unsure when and where to make his moves, hesitated at times, and appeared exhausted. These are lessons Doncic mastered long ago.

Playoff experience is often viewed through a psychological lens, as if the less experienced player will crumble under pressure. Edwards didn’t collapse; he showed superstar potential. However, there are different levels of superstars, and Doncic occupies a higher tier. While I won’t break down the skills NFL combine style, Doncic would undoubtedly come out on top. Edwards’ shooting remains a minor flaw at this early stage of his career.

He can shoot well, occasionally even exceptionally. He posted a better three-point percentage than Doncic in these playoffs (38.5% vs. 34.4%), though with fewer attempts. Volume matters since Doncic’s confidence in his shot contrasts with Edwards, who often takes shots on the defense’s terms unless he’s particularly confident.

It’s tempting to accuse Edwards of settling for jumpers due to his aggressive playing style. In these playoffs, especially this series, Edwards seemed aware of this and sought openings in the defense, wary of consistently taking outside shots. Doncic, on the other hand, actively seeks the shots Edwards hesitates to take, especially in high-pressure situations. When Edwards promised to take more shots in Game 3 after falling 0-2, he made 24 attempts but only sank three jumpers compared to Doncic’s ten.

Edwards went 4-of-6 from three in Game 5 but wasn’t assertively pursuing jumpers when the game was still competitive. Jump shots remain available despite any defense; as Doncic demonstrated, even multiple defenders often can’t stop a well-executed, self-created jumper. If you’re hesitant to take those shots consistently, you risk being contained, as Edwards was by Dallas, and Minnesota’s offense couldn’t keep up.

This issue isn’t unique to the Timberwolves, though it felt more pronounced due to their limited scoring options. Playoff offense gets tougher, especially in advanced rounds where physicality increases, and scouting reports become more precise.

Hence, shot creators like Jamal Murray, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Doncic, and Irving are so valuable—they provide a consistent offensive counter. Edwards has the potential for such tough-shot making but didn’t show readiness to rely on his shot, independent of the defense, during crucial moments. He often waited for the game to come to him, while Doncic aggressively seized control early, as evidenced by his 20 points in the first quarter on Thursday.

In his second career conference finals, Doncic averaged over 32 points, eight assists, nine rebounds, and two steals on 47/43 shooting splits, proving the doubts about him unfounded. Even at 25, he could retire now and be remembered as one of the greatest offensive players ever. This recent run, with a solid team behind him, solidifies his status.

Edwards, equipped with one of the best defenses in recent memory, lacked the offensive support to compete with Doncic and Irving. Without other options, he needed to create his own scoring opportunities, a task he’s not yet comfortable handling consistently, leading to several close games and an ultimately lost series.

This isn’t to sharply criticize Edwards, more to observe. When players are this talented, you almost have to invent flaws to discuss. No version of Edwards at this stage could’ve compensated for Towns’ subpar performance against such a formidable opponent.

Nonetheless, let’s acknowledge Edwards’ achievements. Averaging 24.6 points, 8.8 rebounds, and 7.8 assists on 40% three-point shooting in his first conference finals is impressive. He has the potential to become the best player in the league one day, but that day isn’t today. Despite the eagerness to crown Edwards, it’s currently Luka’s moment.

What teams are in the NBA Finals 2024?

Listen live as the Dallas Mavericks and Boston Celtics square off in the 2024 NBA Finals, which begin on June 6. All games will be aired on satellite and via the SiriusXM app; choose between the home or away team broadcast.

How good is Luka Dončić?

This leads us to Luka Doncic, the current best-in-the-world candidate who needs to be mentioned, regardless of whether he ends up winning. So far, he’s ticked every other box. He was the league’s top scorer this season.

What did Anthony Edwards say about Luka?

Edwards says, “I’ll be damned if I let some white boy from Slovenia steal my shine.” He’s going to find out why I’m the league’s face.

Abu Bakar
Abu Bakar
Abubakar is a writer and digital marketing expert. Who has founded multiple blogs and successful businesses in the fields of digital marketing, software development. A full-service digital media agency that partners with clients to boost their business outcomes.


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