There are many superstars in the NBA, but Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks is already the best player in the NBA today.
Kevin Durant is out for the season in Brooklyn. Stephen Curry suffered a serious injury early in the Golden State Warriors’ campaign. LeBron James is somehow being overshadowed by Anthony Davis in Southern California.
It’s been a strange start to the 2019-20 NBA season. One constant has been the performance of Doncic, who has upped his game from a Rookie of the Year campaign.
The dynamic Doncic has a new running partner in Kristaps Porzingis. His Dallas Mavericks are a surprising 4-2 on the season. And he now has to be considered the best player in the Association.
Let us explain.
Stellar rookie season: Doncic put up one of the best initial campaigns in modern NBA history, and it’s not necessarily that close.
- The averages of 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists don’t do Doncic’s rookie season justice.
- Here’s a kid, just beyond his teenage years, who was as consistent as we’ve ever seen from such a young player.
- Doncic put up 24 double-double performances in 72 games. That’s a 33% mark for the youngster.
- Those are numbers usually reserved for veterans who have honed their craft.
- For comparison’s sake, LeBron James tallied just 12 double-doubles in 79 games as a rookie back in 2003-04.
The meteoric rise: We honestly just didn’t realize how darn good Doncic was going to be as a second-year player. It’s been one of the greatest progressions from rookie to sophomore in NBA history.
- As good as the Slovenian was as a rookie, he’s upped his overall game to new levels through the early part of his sophomore season. It’s been something to behold.
- Including triple-doubles in each of the past two games, Doncic is averaging 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 9.5 assists in six games.
- Despite the small sample size, these numbers compare to Mr. triple-double himself, Russell Westbrook.
- However, Doncic’s efficiency is off the charts. He’s shooting 46% from the field, 35% from distance and boasts a 55% effective field-goal percentage.
- Having averaged a triple-double each of the past three seasons, Westbrook’s splits stood at 43/31/47 in those three categories. Again, it’s all about efficiency.
The usage numbers: Despite being used a whole lot in Dallas’ offensive sets, Doncic’s efficiency is off the charts for a guard.
- Normally, a high usage rate equals less efficiency, especially for a guard. Just ask the above-mentioned Westbrook as well as James Harden. It’s a continuing theme, even for the NBA’s best players.
- That’s not the case for Doncic thus far during his sophomore campaign. His efficiency is right up there with those who would normally play off the ball and find wide-open shots.
- Doncic has 12 less turnovers than Harden this season. His player-efficiency rating is fourth among all guards, only lagging behind Kyrie Irving when it comes to ball-dominant players.
- Moreover, he ranks fourth among guards in offensive rating and fifth in offensive win shares. All of that combined for a ball-dominant guard tells us just how dominant Doncic has been.
The Mavericks are good: Dallas had failed to win more than 33 games in each of the past three seasons. Once Dirk Nowitzki started struggling with Father Time, this team was not the same.
- The Mavs might not be legit title conference contenders in a competitive Western Conference, but they are looking every bit the part of a playoff team.
- Dallas heads into Wednesday’s game against the Magic at 4-2 on the season. It’s the team’s best start since back in 2014-15, the last time these Mavs won 50-plus games.
- Doncic’s performance coupled with a great early relationship with Porzingis has played right into this hot start.
- The team ranks seventh in points per game, first in offensive rating and just 19th in pace. This means Doncic and the Mavericks’ offense have slowed it down some to play to his strengths. It’s worked out swimmingly.
Some might question the logic in already giving Doncic the crown as the NBA’s best player. Fellow second-year star Trae Young is doing things in Atlanta.
There’s still the old guard out there in that of James, Curry, Durant, Harden and the like. Heck, Giannis Antetokounmpo remains a freak in Milwaukee. Kawhi Leonard is the reigning NBA Finals MVP for a reason.
The list goes on and on.
Even then, it’s hard to deny what Doncic has done early in his sophomore campaign. The youngster’s all-around impact makes him the best player in the NBA right now.
And at just 20 years old, the sky is the absolute limit here. It’s been something to behold.