Recent draft classes have brought the NBA some of the most promising talents the league has seen in the last several decades. The impressive play from the young stars has shown that the league is in good hands.
Players like Jayson Tatum, De’Aaron Fox, Donovan Mitchell, and Bam Adebayo have all made an instant impact in the league and are set to be the cornerstones of their respective franchises as each one signed a max contract this offseason. Each of these young stars from the 2017 draft class has drastically improved their game to an all-star caliber level.
From the 2018 draft class, Deandre Ayton has shown that he can be an efficient big man in today’s NBA, Michael Porter Jr. showed signs of the star we expected him to be in the Orlando bubble, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is on the rise as an exceptional two-way player and the face of the new-look Thunder. Also, from this class, Trae Young is blossoming in the modern NBA with his Steve Nash and Stephen Curry like playstyle. He has shown he can play under pressure and be the best player on a playoff team if he has the right pieces around him.
The 2019 draft class brought us some of the best individual talents we have seen in recent years. Tyler Herro showed he can play with the best guards in the league as he put on a magnificent display in the Orlando bubble. Ja Morant was sensational as he led a subpar Grizzlies team to a near playoff birth in a tough Western Conference. Lastly, we only got a glimpse of the most hyped up player since LeBron James this season, but when he played Zion Williamson showed that his physical intangibles are like nothing we have ever seen before. If he can stay healthy, he has the potential to be one of the best players we have ever seen. However, with all this young talent the league has been blessed with in the last three years, there is one player that stands out amongst his peers. That is Luka Doncic.
Luka Doncic representing Latvia in the USA vs World game (Photo by: Streeter Lecka Getty Images)
During his short career in the NBA Luka Doncic has been one of the best players we have seen in recent years. He is arguably a top 10 player in the league at just 21 years of age. He is far younger than any of the other superstars in the league and currently receives a lot of attention from opposing defenses. However, playing under pressure is nothing new to Luka. While playing for Real Madrid, Luka won MVP of the Euro League at 19 years of age. This makes him the youngest Euro League MVP of all time. The Euro League is without a doubt the second most competitive basketball league in the world and this accomplishment by Luka is incredible. While his Euro League MVP is an amazing accomplishment, Luka is poised for far greater as he goes on.
Looking at Luka’s first two years in the league, he is currently putting up numbers we have only seen once before in the last twenty years. He won rookie of the year in the 2018-2019 season by a landslide against his peers Trae Young and Deandre Ayton. While his rookie year was exceptional, the jump he made during his second season put the league on notice. He had drastic improvements in nearly all statistical categories from year one to year two. He increased his points per game, assists per game, rebounds per game, field goal percentage, free throw percentage, effective field goal percentage, and PER. These increases across the board led to Luka’s first all-star appearance as a starter as well as landing him in the top five in MVP voting. The totals he has put up through his first two years are numbers we have only seen from LeBron James in the last twenty years. While his numbers are incredible, they don’t tell the full story.
Watching Luka Doncic play is mesmerizing. His game is not like the other superstars in today’s NBA. He is not the most athletically gifted player, but his talent is on another level. He has a sixth sense for exactly where players are going to be at all times. He can play the game at his own pace which keeps opposing defenses on their heels. His game resembles that of the great Larry Bird. He is a six-foot-eight point-forward that can handle like an elite point guard, pass like a magician, rebound amongst the bigs, and shoot from anywhere on the floor. While his defense does need some improvement, he is a generational offensive talent.
Luka is currently the favorite to win league MVP next season and rightfully so after his performance last season. He brought us some dazzling moments highlighted by his game-winning buzzer-beater against a stacked Los Angeles Clippers team in the playoffs. He is poised for a great season next year and we should expect many record-breaking MVP caliber seasons soon from Luka Doncic.
Author: Alex Milas