Luka Doncic Isn’t LeBron James, but He Might Be the Best 20-Year-Old Ever

  • Luka Doncic made history on Monday night.
  • Comparisons to LeBron James aren’t quite foolproof but are accurate in numerous ways.
  • He’s well on his way to the best season of any 20-year-old ever and perhaps an MVP award.

Luka Doncic exploded for 42 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists on Monday night, leading the Dallas Mavericks to a hard-fought victory over the in-state rival San Antonio Spurs. The historical context behind those eye-popping numbers makes Doncic’s performance all the more noteworthy, too.

The Slovenian sensation has often been compared to LeBron James since entering the league last year and even during his star-turning career in Europe as a teenager. But less than a month into his second NBA season, it’s fair to suggest that Doncic is a bit further along in his overall development than James was at the same stage.

Case in point: James, 20, finished seventh in MVP voting in 2004-05. Fourteen years later, Doncic is staking a more forceful claim for basketball’s top individual honor than not just James but any 20-year-old in league history.

Rapid Development

It’s almost impossible to believe now that some harbored doubts about Doncic’s growth potential leading up to the 2018 draft. A smaller minority remained pessimistic even after a debut campaign for which he won Rookie of the Year; he joined Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson as the only first-year players to ever average at least 20 points, seven rebounds, and six assists per game.

Doncic has thus far cast any skepticism about his ability to improve aside. Noticeably lighter and quicker, he’s already playing at a level reserved for legends. Doncic is averaging 29.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 9.3 assists, propelling the 8-5 Mavericks to the league’s second-ranked offense.

Those comparisons to James, by the way, indeed bear some weight. Doncic is a genius ball handler at 6-foot-8, routinely exploiting his size advantage to make dazzling passes most playmakers can’t see, let alone…

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