Culture of Hoops

Luka Doncic Isn’t The Next Big Thing Anymore

Image courtesy of Taylor Macias.

Dallas Mavericks forward/guard/Mr. Everything, Luca Doncic is no longer “up next” as he’s here right now, as a superstar and legitimate MVP candidate. Sure, it’s only been a month, but Doncic has his Mavericks team atop the Southwest Division with a 14-6 record, getting wins against Western Conference contenders – the Denver Nuggets, San Antonio Spurs (c’mon, you can never count out Coach Pop’s teams), Houston Rockets, and NBA title favorites, the Los Angeles Lakers led by a healthy LeBron James. Who would have thought the Mavs would do so well? Probably should have checked SBD’s basketball betting page to see what their odds were like for the season first. Their NBA odds usually gets updated every week, but with so much going on for the holidays, it’s hard to keep track these days. Anyway, at the center of those dubs is the international sensation and last year’s NBA Rookie of the Year, the man nicknamed The Matador, Luka Doncic.

Many expected Luka to take a jump this season because he seemed to adapt to the NBA game so well last season after playing with powerhouse Real Madrid from 2015-18. So with an NBA offseason under his belt, and an infusion of talent with a healthy Kristaps Porzingis to help take off some of the heat from opposing defenses, Doncic playing well was expected. However, did anyone think it’d be to the tune of an almost triple-double (as of 12/4/19) – 30.7 points, 10.3 rebounds, and 9.4 assists in 20 games thus far? Of course, with Russell Westbrook having done this numerous times in the recent past, it’s not as impressive on the surface, but consider that this is only Doncic’s second season and at only 20 years old, he is still one of the youngest players in the entire league. Almost without argument, he’s the most impactful young premier player right now.

That said, as with anything going good at the moment, will it last? Can Doncic keep playing at this high of a level for the next several months? Maybe averaging a triple-double isn’t in the offing just because it’s so difficult and there’s a reason only two players have ever done it in NBA history, but can Luka still be this great and take his team along with him? Since there’s such a small sample size to Doncic’s career (duh!), let’s look at his monthly splits last season as a sort of marker:

Looking at the numbers above, essentially, from month-to-month, Doncic did get better. Even during his “bad” March where his scoring dipped, along with his percentages, you can see it was still one of his better rebounding, assists, and steals months. In fact, the pre- and post-All-Star stats look good in regards to getting better as the season rolled on. So, the question then becomes about durability. Last season, Doncic played 72 of 82 games and was consistent with his 32.2 minutes per game all season. This season, Luka has played every game and only slightly upped his minutes per game to 33.8. All those things considered, it’s safe to say that Doncic should continue to dominate the NBA competition this season and prove he isn’t the next big thing anymore… Luka Doncic is the big thing in the NBA now.

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