By Bill Yang
Last season, Dončić was the best rookie. This season, Dončić could cement himself as the best sophomore of all time. 14 games into the 2019-2020 season, Luka Dončić is averaging 29.9 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 9.4 assists on a 62.5% True Shooting Percentage.
Dončić is producing a level of box-score dominance coupled with elite efficiency that has almost never been seen before in modern NBA history. Russell Westbrook averaged the first 30 point triple-double since Oscar Robertson during his 2016-2017 MVP season, but he did so on merely league-average shooting efficiency. In that same season, James Harden put up an efficient 29/8/11, the monster stat line that is most comparable to Dončić’s current production.
In comparisons to past eras, using metrics adjusted for pace like per 100 possessions stats helps eliminate stat inflation from high pace eras.
No second year player has ever even come close to Luka’s current averages of 42 points, 14.9 rebounds, and 13.2 assists per-100 possessions. In fact, the only player who has ever put up these stats was MVP season Russell Westbrook.
Even if you lower the cutoff to just 28/10/9 per 100 poss, no sophomore other than Dončić has ever reached this level — and yes, not even Oscar Robertson or LeBron James.
Factoring in Dončić’s elite efficiency, only Dončić and his fellow Slav Nikola Jokic have even averaged 17/7/7 per 100 possessions on 60% TS% in their sophomore seasons.
Dončić Compared to Other Great 2nd Year Campaigns (per 100 poss)
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Better Than MVPs?
Dončić’s stats are so insane that he’s already an early MVP candidate along with Harden, Giannis, and LeBron. Here is how Dončić’s season compares to the past 7 MVP seasons. We’ll let the stats speak for themselves.
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How Does He Get So Many Rebounds?
Dončić can’t jump that high. He’s not fast. He doesn’t have impressive length either. But despite all of his physical disadvantages, Dončić is ranked 12th in total rebounds per game at 10.6, more than his 7’3″ co-star Kristaps Porziņģis who only grabs 9 boards per game. You have to go down to the 30th ranked player (Board Man) to find a top ranked rebounder who is not a power forward or center.
Dončić is a point guard listed at 6’7″. The only other 6’8″ or below player who gets more rebounds per game than Dončić is Kevin Love.
Top 10 Rebounders Among Sub 6’8″ Players (minimum 10 games played)
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More Crazy Luka Stats
- 2nd in Assist % this season, and he assists a staggering 48.3% of field goals while he is on the floor. Unsurprisingly, LeBron James is ranked 1st at 51.7%. Trae Young is just below Luka, at 45.6%.
- Leads the league in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player), BPM (Box Plus/Minus), and Win Shares/48.
- The most ball dominant player in the league. He ranks first in touches, first in time of possession, and 4th in usage rate.
- 17th highest points per 100 possessions of all time at 42.0. The next highest 20 year old was sophomore LeBron, who scored 34.3 points per 100 possessions.
SOURCE: BASKETBALL-REFERENCE.COM and STATS.NBA.COM
James Harden was compared to Manu Ginobili as a 6th man on the Thunder. Once he was traded to the Rockets, he almost instantly became better than Ginobili ever was. Last, year Dončić was seen as the closest current comparison to Harden as both were big guards with crafty scoring, excellent court vision, and elite de-accerlation — not to mention Luka’s penchant for Harden’s signature step back 3.
Could Dončić transcend Harden in the same way Harden transcended Ginobili’s greatness? Is Dončić on pace to be one of the greatest players of all time? Following Dončić’s hot start, it certainly seems like it. Dončić has reached a level of dominance in just his second season that Harden had to work seven seasons to reach.
Less than 100 games into Dončić’s NBA career, it would be foolish to crown him as the player who will dominate the next decade, but Dončić is already playing like a top 5 player. By June, there’s a good chance that Dončić would have produced the greatest sophomore season of all time.