It's time to talk about Luka Doncic. It's still early in the season, but in just under a month, through 13 games, he's having a better year than any of the best players in basketball history had in their second seasons. It's time to earnestly consider the fact that Luka Doncic has a chance to be the best player ever.
On Monday night Doncic had a 42-point triple-double. His sixth of the season. He and LeBron James are the only players to ever do that before turning 21.
Doncic had a really nice rookie season averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Rounding all those numbers down, you only get 40 total examples of a player averaging 21/7/6/1 for an entire season on Basketball Reference. The worst player on that list is Steve Francis, who at 24-years old, was in the first of his three consecutive All-Star seasons.
Now there's Doncic in Year 2, averaging 29.5 points, 10.7 rebounds, 9.3 assists, shooting 47.7 percent from the field and posting a 30.8 PER and 34.7 percent usage rate while turning the ball over 4.6 times a game. It's obviously far from an entire season, but 13 games is a big enough sample size to at least start looking at what some other guys did in their second years in the league.
What do I mean by "some other guys?" Well, It's not even worth comparing Luka's numbers to guys like Giannis, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry or Kobe Bryant. He's outscoring all of their younger versions and doubling and tripling most of their early rebound and assist numbers. He's scoring 7.8 more points a game than Tim Duncan and is less than a rebound per game behind Duncan.
His numbers are so good right now the only people worth comparing him to are the greatest players of all time: LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Jerry West and Michael Jordan's third season. (Jordan's injury-shortened second season does not compare to Luka's.)
Luka is currently fourth in the NBA in scoring with 29.5 points per game. He is averaging more points per game than LeBron, Bird or Magic did in their second seasons. Only Jerry West scored more. Jordan led the NBA in scoring during his second FULL season, with 37.1 points per game. He did that on more than 27 shots per game in 40 minutes a night.
Luka is currently 10th in the NBA in rebounding with 10.7 rebounds per game. He is averaging more rebounds than James, Johnson, Jordan and West did. Only Larry Bird had more rebounds with 10.9 rebounds a game.
Luka is second in the NBA in assists. He is averaging more assists than Magic Johnson did in his second season. Obviously, he's averaging more than LeBron and Michael and West and Bird, but he's averaging more assists per game than Magic. John Stockton, the NBA's all-time assists leader, didn't average more assists than Luka's 9.3 until his fourth season. Jason Kidd was 25, in his fifth season. Steve Nash was 30.
Luka has a higher true shooting percentage than Bird. Curry didn't top Luka's .612 TS% until his sixth season. He is shooting a higher percentage on 2-pointers this season than Shaq did in his second year. He's also outscoring him and has a higher PER. Speaking of which, Luka has a higher PER right now than anyone has ever had at his age.
There's a long way to go, but that's where we are right now. Luka looks better at this point in his career than just about anyone who has ever played. Can he stay healthy for another decade and a half? Can his numbers really improve from here? It seems crazy, but possible. The reality is the numbers imply we might be watching the start of the best career of all time.