Today’s Sportstat: January 14, 2019
Luka Doncic: Have we seen him before?
Back in 1986, there was a very popular song by Suzanne Vega titled “Luka.” The first few lines of the song went like this: “My name is Luka. I live on the second floor. I live upstairs from you. Yes I think you’ve seen me before.”
I mention this because one of the compelling stories from this NBA season has been the play of Dallas Mavericks rookie “wunderkid,” Luka Doncic. The 19-year-old (he won’t turn 20 until February 28) from Slovania, was the third overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. Through the first half of this season, Doncic has been putting up some really impressive numbers for a rookie and seems to be the front-runner for this year’s Rookie of the Year Award. With his impressive skill set and overall game, in some circles, it might be said (unlike the song, “Luka,”) that we have not seen someone like him before.
Doncic leads the Mavs (through games of January 13) in points per game (20.2), and is second on the team in minutes played, rebounds per game (6.7) and assists per game (5.0). What makes these numbers all the more impressive is that if Doncic should finish the season with 20 points per game and five rebounds and five assists per game, he would join a very short list of rookies that have achieved these numbers.
Here’s a look at the four rookies in NBA history who averaged 20 points per game and had five rebounds and five assist per game in their rookie campaigns in the league:
Oscar Robertson, 1961, Cincinnati (30.5 points per game, 10.1 rebounds per game, 9.7 assists per game)
Michael Jordan, 1985, Chicago (28.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds per game, 5.9 assists per game)
LeBron James, 2004, Cleveland (20.9 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, 5.9 assists per game)
Tyreke Evans, 2010, Sacramento (20.1 points per game, 5.3 rebounds per game, 5.8 assists per game)
Robertson and Jordan are already in the Hall of Fame and James will certainly join them when he hangs up his sneakers. Evans? His name on the list might have surprised more than a few NBA fans.
In addition, Doncic is on pace to total more than 1,600 points in his rookie season. That has happened 39 times in league history. Since 2000, we have seen the following rookies top the 1,600-point mark in their first season: Elton Brand (Chicago-2010), LeBron James (Cleveland-2004), Carmelo Anthony (Denver-2004), Kevin Durant (Seattle-2008), Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers-2011) and Donovan Mitchell (Utah-2018). Of the 39 rookies who had 1,600 or more points in their rookie campaigns, 21 are currently in the Hall of Fame, with others like James, Anthony, Griffin, Durant and Tim Duncan likely joining that group in the future.
Wilt Chamberlain tops the list of most points scored in a rookie season with 2,707. He is followed by Walt Bellamy (2,495). The Dallas Mavs team record for most points by a rookie is 1,732 held by Jay Vincent in 1982.
It’s still early in Luka Doncic’s career, but he appears headed to that upper echelon of NBA players
Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp