The stats between LeBron James after his second year in the NBA and Luka Doncic in his second season are so eerily similar it’s like looking into a mirror.
During the first 159 games of his career following his sophomore season, James averaged 24.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.6 assists and shot 44.6 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from 3-point range. As for Luka Doncic who’s on his second season, he is averaging 23.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists and shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 32.7 percent from behind the 3-point arc in 105 career games.
Regardless of what the stats say, Doncic is quick to dismiss the fact that he is the second coming of LeBron James. ‘I’m nowhere near that’, he said. ‘I’m 20 years old and this is my second year in the league. Anything can happen, so I’ve got to prove a lot’.
What Doncic has proven so far into his career is that he is one of the top players in the world. The 6’7” point guard has helped the Dallas Mavericks climb the conference table, going 23-14 while wowing fans with his athletics and type of play. Speaking about Doncic’s climb on the player rankings, Donnie Nelson, Mavs’ general manager, said, ‘This has happened way ahead of schedule. Obviously, every game he seems to surprise us, and our future is really, really bright’.
Stephen A. Smith, co-host of ESPN’s First Take, said that he sees a lot of James when he’s watching Doncic play. ‘I’m not going to call him the next LeBron in terms of athleticism because I don’t necessarily see that, but the brother can play’, he said. ‘He is clearly a superstar in the making. First of all, at this age he has a better jump shot than LeBron James, he clearly hits better free throws than LeBron James. He’s not as athletic as LeBron, but with coach Rick Carlisle putting the ball in his hands and allowing him to do his thing, I can’t say enough about him’.
Doncic and James are two of the NBA’s brightest and biggest stars, and a head-to-head match of this kind usually draws added interest, even on a global scale. ‘It couldn’t be more exciting and it’s as good as it gets’, said Nelson. ‘It’s a big rivalry for us, and to have Luka play against one of his heroes just makes it special. It means the Mavericks are winning more basketball games, and that’s what we and (Doncic) wants’.
When Doncic was younger, James was his idol. Now, playing against James makes for a surreal experience altogether. Regardless, when both step on the court, only one of them can claim the win. ‘When the game starts he’s trying to win’, said Doncic. ‘Although it’s special to go against him we’re just trying to win the game, but again it’s special to play against him. I enjoy every game I play, so like I say it’s special to play against him’.
Words: Carlos Corpus