NBA: Three Takes On Luka Doncic’s Rookie Year

Luka Doncic‘s first season in the NBA is in the books. Coming off a thriller of a season, the 20-year-old Slovenian sensation is preparing for his first full NBA off-season. A new golden generation is rising in the Dallas Mavericks organization. Doncic is the forefront of the new era.

On April 9th, Dirk Nowitzki announced his retirement. Doncic spent the season learning and improving as a player from Dirk.  Nowitzki’s retirement is the passing of the torch from Nowitzki to Doncic as to becoming Dallas’ next beloved European superstar. For Doncic, it’s just the beginning.

He’s reliable: 

By scoring a total of 1,549 points, Luka finished second among rookies this season. He’s also the Mavericks top scorer for the season. He finished second among rookies in assists(429), fourth in steals(78), and second in total rebounds(562). His average of 21.2 points per game is the most among rookies.

Furthermore, his eight triple-doubles for the season ties him for fourth in the league alongside LeBron James. He’s in the top 20 in the league in assist percentage(31.6), as well as usage percentage(30.5). His averaging of 6.0 assists per game puts him 19th in the league.

Additionally, he finished 18th in the league in free throws with a total of 346, as well as free throw attempts(485). By making a total of 168 three-point shots, he’s the leader among rookies, as well as 25th in the league.

In 42 games this season, Luka led the team in scoring. At the beginning of the season, the Mavericks had the likes of DeAndre Jordan, Dennis Smith Jr., Harrison Barnes, and Wesley Matthews. The Mavericks would go on to trade all four of these players, thus increasing Doncic’s opportunity to play a bigger role in the team’s success. The opportunity allowed Doncic to improve as a player and gain experience. Dallas went 28-44 with Doncic in the lineup.

He breaks records:

He’s the second youngest player to register a triple-double. Also, he’s the second player in NBA history to have 1,000 points with 340 rebounds and 260 assists through 50 games. In addition, he’s the seventh player in NBA history to score 1,000 points as a teenager.

Furthermore, he’s the fourth teenager in history to have multiple 35-point games. He joins the likes of Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony in that category. His seven 30-point games as a teenager is a tie for third-most in NBA history. And finally, Doncic is the first teenager in NBA history to register a 30-point triple-double. He is also the only teenager in NBA history to have multiple triple-doubles.

Last but least, on April 9th, Doncic registered his eighth triple-double of the season, thus becoming the all-time leader in triple-doubles among players under the age of 21. Magic Johnson previously held the record.

He isn’t perfect: 

No rookie is perfect. Thus, it’s no surprise Doncic had struggles. His 43 percent field goal percentage, 32.7 three-point shot percentage, and 71.3 free throw percentage speak for themselves. However, Luka’s offensive skills are not a cause for concern with the exception of his 247 turnovers which is tenth in the league and second among rookies.

His defensive abilities are worrisome. Luka’s draft profile indicates he lacks the speed and physicality of defending the post as well as defending against elite shooters. His defensive rating of 109.8 is average compared Hassan Whiteside and Giannis Antetokounmpo who’s defensive ratings are 99.1 and 99.4 respectively. However, his defensive win shares are 2.8 which is the best within the Mavericks. Overall, Luka’s skills on defense are average.

It’s common for rookies to have defensive struggles. Overall, Luka’s defensive abilities are average. As he improves his condition and his skills while he continues to adapt himself to the NBA lifestyle, Luka is only going to get better.

Luka’s rookie season is certainly a successful one. Of course, his statistical skills are not on the same level as James Harden, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Antetokounmpo, Lebron, etc. Regardless, Luka’s accomplishments as a rookie are impressive. By spending most of the season writing his name in the history books, it’s safe to say Luka overachieved.

It’s been announced that Doncic will not play in this year’s Summer League. Over the past few months, he’s been nagged by injuries. Luka has to heal up in preparation for next season. The next chapter of Luka’s life and career begins now.

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