Sport The NBA world is fawning over Luka Doncic as the 20-year-old continues to dominate like the league has never seen
15 way-too-early observations from the first 15 days of the NBA season
Can we get a proper grasp of how NBA teams will perform over the next six months after just 15 days of action? Absolutely not, but let's roll with what we've learned so far, anyway. Kawhi and LeBron are the league's best If Giannis Antetokounmpo was even a smidgen of a pull-up threat, this title would be his and his alone. But he's not, at least not yet. Enter Kawhi Leonard and a rejuvenated LeBron James Leonard's load is still being carefully managed, and he doesn't go full throttle at the defensive end until he needs to, but the reigning Finals MVP has been making light work of the opposition this season.
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.
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In One-On-One, Sean Keane and Pat Heery dish on LeBron-AD, Doncic-Porzingis, Harden-Westbrook, McCollum-Lillard and more.Keane: When the Celtics brought in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to play with Paul Pierce, the NBA ideal became forming a Big Three. We then got LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, LeBron with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland, and Chris Paul, James Harden and Cole Perez in State Farm commercials. But now it’s the Duo Era in the NBA, with Kawhi Leonard taking Paul George with him to the Clippers and LeBron recruiting his partner in Klutch, Anthony Davis, to the Lakers.
This served as an encore to a 42-point, 11-rebound, 12-assist performance in a win over the San Antonio Spurs on Monday.
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 defense doesn't seem to matter.
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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 (). "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."
Zach LaVine, Jim Boylen meet after LaVine was benched Friday night
Coach and player met on Saturday after LaVine was benched early in Friday night's game against the Heat.In comments relayed by Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports, LaVine believed he was being singled out when Boylen removed him from Friday’s game after Miami built a 13-0 lead in the first 3:27. It was the latest in a series of slow starts that have contributed to Chicago’s disappointing 5-11 record.
Warriors rookie guard Eric Paschall, who is 23, noted tothat 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, is dominating at the NBA level after just 86 career games. He may still be getting better.
Three Things to Know: Luka Doncic is putting up age 20 stats we haven’t seen since LeBron
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Why Mavericks' Luka Doncic is so good, so quickly .
If you’re trying to figure why Luka Doncic has quickly become a star, Yardbarker's Brett Koremenos writes, here’s a key number: 3,441. That's the minutes he played professionally before he even stepped on an NBA floor. When he was just 16, Doncic began his career with Real Madrid, a team in Spain that competes in two of the best competitions outside the NBA -- the ACB, Spain’s top domestic league, and Euroleague, the intercontinental competition that pits Europe’s best clubs against each other.