On Monday night against the Orlando Magic, Luka Doncic did what has come to be expected from him. He put up 45 points, 15 assists, and 9 rebounds and led his team to a win. Luka Doncic has been on fire this season, forcing himself into MVP discussions even though the media pundits seemingly don’t want him there.
After his historic 73 point performance against the Atlanta Hawks, which is the most points scored in a game since Kobe Bryant’s 81 in 2006, all that could be heard on mainstream sports media was that the Atlanta Hawks should be ashamed of themselves and that the defense in today’s NBA is unacceptable. Karl Anthony Towns and Devin Booker had scored over 60 prior to this performance, and Joel Embiid scored 70 not even a week before and this talk of defense was nowhere to be found.
Whatever the reason may be, Luka Doncic has not received his flowers. Looking further into what he has done this season, however, conveys just how ridiculous and unprecedented Luka has been.
Breaking Records and Taking Names
Against the Magic on Monday night, Luka Doncic became the only player in NBA history with at least two 45 point and 15 assist games and they both happened this season. The other game was against the Phoenix Suns on Christmas day in which Doncic dropped 50 points and 15 assists. His ability to create open looks out of double teams, skip passes across the court effortlessly, attack the basket with absurd efficiency, and hit step back threes on a nightly basis is truly special.
Luka Doncic’s 73 point performance is statistically one of the greatest games ever played in NBA history. In fact, according to his game score, it is the second best performance of all time right behind Michael Jordan’s masterpiece against the Cavaliers on March 28th, 1990 in which he dropped 69 points, 18 rebounds, 6 assists, and 4 steals on 62% shooting from the field.
Game score is a method of measuring how impactful a performance by a player is on any given night. First developed by John Hollinger, game score uses a combination of points scored, field goals made, field goals attempted, free throws made, free throws attempted, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, and turnovers to calculate impact and contribution to winning.
Luka’s game score of 64.0 against the Hawks on January 26th surpassed Kobe Bryant’s 63.5 from 2006 when he dropped 81 points on the Raptors. Many things contribute to this, including how accurate Doncic was from the floor. His 73 points came on 25-33 shooting. To put this in context, Kobe Bryant needed 46 shots to score 81 and he missed 18 of them. Doncic only missed a total of 8 shots on his way to 73 points.
When Doncic is in a groove, the game moves exactly as fast as he wants it to. His physicality and shiftiness makes up for his lack of speed, and because he’s such a threat everywhere on the floor, he can completely freeze defenses and either drive to the basket with ease or step back for a three because the defender is anticipating a drive.
This season, Luka Doncic is averaging a career high in field goal percentage and three point percentage while also putting up nearly 35 points a night. He also adds 9.6 assists and 8.6 rebounds on a nightly basis. If he keeps up this level of production, he would be the only player in NBA history to achieve those statistics. NBA fans are witnessing history when they watch Luka Doncic play, as he continues to cement himself as one of the best players in the league and even put himself in conversations with the greatest players of all time.
Doncic is second in triple doubles before the age of the 25, only behind Oscar Robertson. This season he also became one of only 6 players (Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Tracy McGrady and Carmelo Anthony) to score 10,000 points before turning 25 and ranks 6th in most assists in that same time frame. Luka Doncic is on pace to be one of the greatest players to ever step foot on a basketball court, and the fans are witnessing that every night whether they know it or not.