God Shammgod springs to his feet in front of the Dallas Mavericks' bench, a big smile on his face, as he discusses one of his favorite subjects: dribbling.
Specifically, in this instance a couple of hours before an Oct. 7 home preseason game, Luka Doncic's dribbling.
Shammgod, a Mavericks player development coach who is so renowned for his ballhandling brilliance that a popular move is named after him, begins to demonstrate the simple base of Doncic's evolution into the league's leading isolation scorer.
Shammgod jabs with his right foot, rocks back to his left as if he might launch a jumper and then darts back to his right, putting the ball on the floor and mimicking a Doncic drive to the basket. In these moments, the court feels like a canvas for Doncic, who Mavs coach Jason Kidd compared to a young Picasso at the start of last season.
Shammgod, a New York City legend, considers Doncic's approach akin to a graffiti artist who encounters a blank wall.
"Luka's imagination," Shammgod says, "is just on a whole other level."
It seems silly now that skeptics questioned the ceiling for a draft prospect with such limited explosiveness. Sure, Doncic had unprecedented success for a teenager in Europe, becoming the youngest MVP ever in the world's second-best league before entering the 2018 draft. Yet many scouts and executives wondered whether he could blossom into an NBA superstar.
Four seasons later, Doncic has already established himself as a perennial NBA MVP favorite, in part because he's not only a one-on-one wunderkind but also arguably the league's premier isolation weapon with one of the league's deepest bags of tricks.