- Luka Doncic is dominating at an unprecedented level for a 20-year-old.
- Doncic is nearly averaging a 30-point triple-double on the season, and his back-to-back triple-doubles this week have made him the youngest NBA player to accomplish such a feat.
- Doncic’s scoring, passing, and smooth game have earned him comparisons to Larry Bird and LeBron James.
- Doncic was projected to be good, but he’s better than anyone expected, and there’s little to suggest he’s going to regress – in fact, he may continue to get better.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Second-year players often make a leap in the NBA; it’s expected, to varying degrees, depending on how their rookie years went. However, few could have predicted Luka Doncic’s second-year would look like this.
Through 14 games, the 20-year-old Doncic is averaging 29.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 9.4 assists per game, very nearly a 30-point triple-double per game.
Those numbers are only increasing. On Wednesday, Doncic scored 35 points and added 10 rebounds with 11 assists in just 26 minutes, helping the Dallas Mavericks beat the Golden State Warriors, 142-94. Doncic outscored the Warriors by himself in the first quarter and had 33 points, 5 rebounds, and 6 assists on 10-of-11 shooting at halftime.
This served as an encore to a 42-point, 11-rebound, 12-assist performance in a win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.
ESPN’s Tim Legler described Doncic’s performance on Wednesday as the best quarter and best half by a player this season.
Legler went on to praise Doncic, comparing him to all-time greats.
“I’m seeing a Larry Bird type, with his pace and the way you can’t speed him up, his shooting ability from deep, but if Larry Bird had a tighter handle and a better first step,” Legler said. “That’s really what Luka Doncic is.” He added Doncic’s ability to score and beat opponents with his playmaking is LeBron James-esque.
Some questions surrounded Doncic heading into the 2018 draft about his athleticism and ability to get shots off on bigger, faster opponents than what he encountered in the Euroleague (where he won MVP as a teenager). Doncic still doesn’t wow with his athletic ability, but his skills are so refined at 20 years old that defence doesn’t seem to matter.
Doncic’s step-back three has become even more lethal this season.
As Legler said, Doncic is never hurried, even on drives to the rim.
And his vision makes him one of the best passers in the league already.
The decimated Warriors didn’t present the toughest challenge on Wednesday, but this was not a one-off occurrence for Doncic.
The stats are impressive any way you spin them. His 30-point triple-double against the Warriors was the quickest in NBA history. He’s the youngest player to produce back-to-back 30-point triple-doubles, beating Oscar Robertson, who did it at 22 years old. He has averaged a 30-point triple-double over his last 10 games, joining Robertson, James, Michael Jordan, and Russell Westbrook as the only players to do so. He’s the only player in the top 15 in points, rebounds, and assists per game this season.
“We were talking about if he can keep this up, and I was like, ‘Yo, if somebody can keep this up, it’s him,'” Mavs guard JJ Barea said (via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon). “He plays on the ground. He’s super smart. He’s shooting the ball well. He’s finishing really well. I see him keeping it up. It’s not hard for him to do this right now. He’s not forcing crazy s—. It’s just coming. That’s why I think he can keep this up. He’s making it look easy.”
Warriors rookie guard Eric Paschall, who is 23, noted to The Athletic’s Tim Cato that Doncic is still quite young.
“The reality is, he’s so dominant at 20. He’s younger than me.”
Doncic’s production, however, has become routine to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.
“He’s a very special player on a special roll,” Carlisle said. “There’s not much else to say. This isn’t a big news flash now. This is getting to be pretty normal.”
It won’t often be that Doncic has nights as he did on Wednesday, but there isn’t a lot to suggest that a regression is coming. He’s not shooting with crazy efficiency – 48% from the field and 33.8% from three. A majority of Doncic’s three-point attempts are difficult, but he’s also shooting just 31% on catch-and-shoot opportunities, per Second Spectrum data. That’s a below-average number for a naturally good shooter. He’s averaging nine free throw attempts per game, a number that could decrease, but Doncic’s arrhythmic game should continue to draw fouls. He’s shooting 81.5% from the line, a sustainable number.
There’s not much to suggest this is fluky from Doncic. A 20-year-old who dominated overseas and was projected as The Next Big Thing for two years, is dominating at the NBA level after just 86 career games. He may still be getting better.
- Read more:
- LeBron James said Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd immediately chastised him for being too sloppy with the ball after a historic triple-double
- The sports world mocked the irony of the NCAA making Memphis star James Wiseman donate $US11,500 to a charity for accepting money
- Here are the new, sleek NBA ‘City’ uniforms from Nike that all 30 teams will be wearing
- NFL POWER RANKINGS: Where every team stands heading into Week 12
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.