This season’s NBA rising star is Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic. The 20-year-old is in the early stages of his second year and has thrived. Before joining the league, Doncic played professionally in Europe for Real Madrid. In 2018, Doncic was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks but was traded to the Mavericks in exchange for Trae Young and a 2019 first-round pick. Since his debut with the Mavericks last season, the 20-year-old has shot up to NBA stardom.
Dallas currently holds a 16-7 record and Doncic has found his way into the NBA MVP conversation. He’s currently averaging 30.0 points, 9.8 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. In a debate on Skip and Shannon: UNDISPUTED, sports analyst Shannon Sharpe made a bold statement that Doncic is better than LeBron James was at age 20.
Skip Bayless asked Sharpe if he would say that Luka is better than LeBron at that point, to which Sharpe replied, “At 20? Yeah, I would say that. Do you see what Luka’s doing?”
Sharpe’s comments came as a surprise as he has previously voiced his supports for the Lakers superstar. Bayless, on the other hand, isn’t a huge fan of the King and disagreed with Sharpe.
“I also see what he [Doncic] doesn’t do. He’s a 32 percent three-point shooter, that ranks him 138th in the league right now,” Bayless said. “I’m sorry he was not better than your man LeBron was when he was 20 and I know Cleveland did not make the playoffs that year, they were 42-40 and LeBron went 27, 7 and 7. LeBron’s a better passer than Luka. He just is and he was. At 20 he had the gift.”
20-Year-Old LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic
LeBron James was drafted to the NBA straight out of high school as the No. 1 pick in 2003 at the age of 18 by the Cleveland Cavaliers. By the time he was 20, James earned his first NBA All-Star Game selection. During the 2004-05 season, he averaged 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game. He also averaged 47.2% shooting from the field and 35.1% from the three. That season, according to Basketball Insiders, James led the league in playing time, averaging 42.4 minutes per night over 80 games played.
A comparison between Doncic and James right now is almost unfair as this season is still young. For comparison’s sake, Doncic is recording better numbers in fewer minutes than James was at age 20 so far this season.
Doncic has posted the aforementioned numbers while averaging 34.1 minutes per game. Through the first 20 games of this season, the Slovenian player averaged 30.7 points per game. This feat tied him with James for the highest-scoring average through 20 games of a season by a player age 20 or younger. Though the season is still young, Doncic’s numbers are looking better than James’ 20-year-old numbers. To get a more accurate analysis though, analysts will have to debate this again once this season comes to an end.