Luka Donic has to be the best 20 year old player ever in the history of the league, he looks like some sort of freakish combination of Lebron James and Larry Bird. He is very fun to watch because he’s not only playing like a veteran but he is a showman. He is an Entertainer. He did get a bit too tired last year. He does play a physical brand of basketball and seeks out the contact, so that could have an effect on his longevity.
The other shocking aspect of the Luka story is how the league somewhat ignored him as he was coming into the league from Europe. I still can’t believe that the Sacramento Kings passed him up, it’s become clear now that the Phoenix Suns should have taken him first overall, and then of course the Atlanta Hawks bungling of the situation.
If these teams had bothered to watch even a handful amount of games from Luka’s Euroleague season, they would have realized that he was an 18 year old kid going against men every night. On top of that, his team won the championship that year! What else did he have to do?
Having said that, he is somehow still exceeding all expectations averaging 31.7 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 9.5 assists per 36 minutes. One of the scary things is that there is still significant room for improvement in his game and still has a few levels that he can go up. He is not shooting the three point shot as well as he probably could, and he can still get bigger, leaner, and more athletic. He is also shown that he is not just a natural scorer but also a true floor leader, one who is patient in all situations and sees the game well, he really knows where everyone is on the court at all times and continues to make all the right plays at 20 years old.
It is also interesting to note that Luka is only playing 35 minutes a game and therefore his usage rate is lower than players who put up similar numbers in previous years, for example James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Moreover, the Dallas Mavericks are not a very good team, despite having Kristaps Porzingis on the roster. The thing with Doncic is that he is such a special talent that all you have to do is put the right pieces around him to accentuate his positive attributes.
Everyone will want to play with Luka moving forward as players hit free agency. I remain shocked at how smart he is with reading everything that’s going on, and how he is two steps ahead of the other players on the floor, making the right pass over and over again, setting up people, driving into paint and making no look passes in the corners.
As you look closer and closer at Luka’s number they become only more staggering. Consider this: only seven players in the history of basketball were under 21 years of age averaging 21+ points per game. Luka has done it twice! The other players to do it are Lebron James, Shaquille Oneal, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Duran, Carmelo Anthony, and Devin Booker.
This ended up being another franchise altering move on Dallas’ part, after lucking out with Dirk Nowitzki in the past. They saw something in him and went out and traded up for him. Luka is a reminder that you must, in every situation, take the generational superstar if available. There were many analysts in basketball who were convinced that Luka Doncic was going to be a superstar. At the end of the day, the teams that passed on him discounted the Euro League far too much.