Two teams passed up on Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA Draft and I’m sure they’ll both be kicking themselves for years to come. Then the Hawks, who drafted him, traded him for Trae Young. Granted, both of the guys selected ahead of him are doing just fine, as is Trae Young, but they aren’t having the greatest rookie season since LeBron James.
Both Luka and LeBron were larger than life coming into the league. LeBron had captivated the country for 4 seasons at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron Ohio, winning 3 state championships, and 3 Mr. Basketball Awards.
Luka, on the other hand, had been playing professional basketball since he was 15 finishing his European career with Real Madrid where he became the youngest player ever to win the EuroLeague MVP at just 18 years of age.
So it’s safe to say, both of these guys had separated themselves from the pack at a very young age. However, some NBA Scouts believed that Luka hadn’t proven that he could thrive playing the faster and more physical style of basketball in America…
Boy were they wrong.
30 games into the 2018-19 season Luka Doncic is well on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year Award, just as LeBron did back in 2004. The most striking thing about his game is how smart he is. He just has an understanding for the game that most veterans work years to get and never do.
LeBron James on the other hand, was more physically gifted than anyone in the NBA and it showed even when he was a rookie. His size, speed, and strength were unmatched by any of the leagues best players.
The big question with LeBron was always whether or not his game would age well. Would he be able to develop a consistent shot rather than relying so heavily on his athleticism. We now know the answer to that question is yes, and really, we haven’t seen much of a decline in LeBron’s athleticism at 34 years of age.
Luka Doncic is obviously not even close to the athlete that LeBron is, which isn’t a knock on him, no one is. However, I will say that Luka is much more versatile on offense than LeBron was as a rookie. Luka can score in a multitude of ways and he does so efficiently.
LeBron was a terrible 3 point shooter as a rookie, shooting 29% from 3, and also struggled at the free-throw line which he still does on occasion, shooting 73% from the line in his 16 year career.
LeBron has always been a great rebounder and passer, and Luka is showing the same aptitude for both as well. They both seem to have a gift for getting their teammates involved and finding the open man.
In his 28th game, Luka Doncic scored his 500th point which meant he had 514 for his career, as well as 188 rebounds and 134 assists.
He’s the second player since 1983 to reach 500/150/100 by the 28th game of his NBA career, the first being-you guess it-LeBron James.
To me, Luka’s rookie season has been more impressive so far. He’s shooting better from the field, from the line, and a lot better from 3 point land. His average continues to approach 20 ppg, which was LeBron’s average as a rookie, and Luka’s doing it on 4 less shots per game.
He’s also averaging more rebounds than LeBron did, and only 1 less assist. By seasons end I’m sure Luka’s averages will be even higher and if he can lead the Mavericks to the playoffs then it will be a done deal. He will officially have a more impressive rookie season then LeBron…
But the rest of LeBron’s career, is tough to match.