Rookie Ranks: Luka Soars Above the Rest

Luka Doncic was picked by many (including myself) to be the 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year.  His fellow rookies, however, did not have so much faith in the young Slovenian to make a big impact in his first year as they had him Tied for 3rd alongside Kevin Knox and behind #1 overall pick Deandre Ayton and Cleveland point guard Collin Sexton in the preseason Rookie Survey.

This ROOKIE RANKS series will track the Rookie of the Year race and give monthly updates on the top candidates.  This first article will be a summary of rookie ranks among each statistical category, going forward, articles will be updates and analysis on the top 3-5 candidates (with an emphasis on Luka, of course).

Luka is off to an amazing start this season, while watching him play it is easy to see he is a great player and will be one of the front-runners for NBA Rookie of the Year.  Even with Luka’s great start, there are several other rookies that are keeping this Rookie of the Year race interesting.

Summary of 2018 Lottery Picks:

Pick Player Team Age G MP PTS REB AST BLK STL
1 Deandre Ayton PHO 20 12 33 16 11 3 0.8 0.7
2 Marvin Bagley SAC 19 13 23 12 5.8 0.8 1.2 0.5
3 Luka Doncic DAL 19 12 34 20 6.5 4.5 0.3 0.8
4 Jaren Jackson MEM 19 11 25 12 4.5 1.3 1.5 1.0
5 Trae Young ATL 20 12 30 18 3.4 7.8 0.3 0.3
6 Mohamed Bamba ORL 20 12 19 6.8 5.3 1.3 1.7 0.3
7 Wendell Carter CHI 19 13 26 12 7.7 2.4 2.1 0.7
8 Collin Sexton CLE 20 12 26 12 2.4 2.2 0.2 0.4
9 Kevin Knox NYK 19 6 16 7 1.3 0.3 0.3 0.5
10 Mikal Bridges PHO 22 12 18 6.7 1.3 0.8 0.1 1.2
11 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander LAC 20 12 27 9.6 3.2 3.3 0.8 0.8
12 Miles Bridges CHA 20 11 20 7.8 3.9 1.1 0.5 0.6
13 Jerome Robinson LAC 21 7 5 2.9 0.4 0.1 0.0 0.0
14 Michael Porter Jr. DEN 20

Quite a few productive players were added to the NBA.  We have been able to see a lot of these players filling significant roles to start the season such as Ayton, Bagley, Doncic, Young, and Carter.  There have really only been two of the lottery picks who have yet to make an impact, those being Jerome Robinson and the injured Michael Porter Jr., who has yet to make his debut from rehabbing his back surgery.

To better find out which players are excelling relative to their peers, lets look at the rookie rankings by stat category.

Points per game leaders:

Rk Player Team Age PTS
1 Luka Doncic DAL 19 20.3
2 Trae Young ATL 20 18.4
3 Deandre Ayton PHO 20 16.1
4 Marvin Bagley SAC 19 12.3
5 Wendell Carter CHI 19 11.8
6 Collin Sexton CLE 20 11.7
7 Jaren Jackson MEM 19 11.6
8 Allonzo Trier NYK 23 11.5
9 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander LAC 20 9.6
10 Josh Okogie MIN 20 8.5

Rebounds per game leaders:

Rk Player Team Age REB
1 Deandre Ayton PHO 20 11
2 Wendell Carter CHI 19 7.7
3 Luka Doncic DAL 19 6.5
4 Marvin Bagley SAC 19 5.8
5 Mohamed Bamba ORL 20 5.3
6 Omari Spellman ATL 21 5.1
7 Jaren Jackson MEM 19 4.5
8 Mitchell Robinson NYK 20 4.4
9 Josh Okogie MIN 20 4.1
10 Miles Bridges CHA 20 3.9

Assists per game leaders:

Rk Player Team Age AST
1 Trae Young ATL 20 7.8
2 Luka Doncic DAL 19 4.5
3 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander LAC 20 3.3
4 Deandre Ayton PHO 20 3
5 Wendell Carter CHI 19 2.4
6 Collin Sexton CLE 20 2.2
7 Elie Okobo PHO 21 2
8 Kevin Huerter ATL 20 1.7
9 Donte DiVincenzo MIL 22 1.6
10 Devonte’ Graham CHA 23 1.5

Field goal percentage leaders (minimum 30 attempts):

Rk Player Team Age FG% FG FGA
1 Mitchell Robinson NYK 20 62.2% 23 37
2 Deandre Ayton PHO 20 60.4% 84 139
3 Mohamed Bamba ORL 20 55.2% 37 67
4 Miles Bridges CHA 20 54.5% 36 66
5 Marvin Bagley SAC 19 50.8% 61 120
6 Allonzo Trier NYK 23 49.0% 50 102
7 Luka Doncic DAL 19 48.9% 88 180
8 Wendell Carter CHI 19 47.9% 58 121
9 Chandler Hutchison CHI 22 47.1% 24 51
10 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander LAC 20 45.5% 40 88

3 point field goal percentage (minimum 12 attempts):

Rk Player Team Age 3P% 3P 3PA
1 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander LAC 20 50.0% 7 14
2 Marvin Bagley SAC 19 50.0% 7 14
3 Allonzo Trier NYK 23 42.9% 9 21
4 Rodions Kurucs BKN 20 41.7% 5 12
5 Omari Spellman ATL 21 40.6% 13 32
6 Collin Sexton CLE 20 40.0% 6 15
7 Luka Doncic DAL 19 39.5% 30 76
8 Kevin Huerter ATL 20 39.3% 11 28
9 Wendell Carter CHI 19 38.5% 5 13
10 Kevin Knox NYK 19 37.5% 6 16

Free-throw percentage leaders (minimum 10 attempts):

Rk Player Team Age FT% FT FTA
1 Elie Okobo PHO 21 92.9% 13 14
2 Collin Sexton CLE 20 91.9% 34 37
3 Allonzo Trier NYK 23 87.2% 41 47
4 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander LAC 20 84.8% 28 33
5 Josh Okogie MIN 20 81.0% 17 21
6 Trae Young ATL 20 80.7% 46 57
7 Landry Shamet PHI 21 78.6% 11 14
8 Grayson Allen UTA 23 76.9% 10 13
9 Wendell Carter CHI 19 76.7% 33 43
10 Luka Doncic DAL 19 76.0% 38 50

Minutes per game leaders:

Rk Player Age G MP
1 Luka Doncic 19 12 34.4
2 Deandre Ayton 20 12 32.5
3 Trae Young 20 12 30.3
4 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander 20 12 26.9
5 Josh Okogie 20 11 26.4
6 Wendell Carter 19 13 26.2
7 Collin Sexton 20 12 25.5
8 Jaren Jackson 19 11 24.9
9 Allonzo Trier 23 13 24
10 Marvin Bagley 19 13 22.6

Blocks leaders:

Rk Player Team Age BLK
1 Wendell Carter CHI 19 2.1
2 Mohamed Bamba ORL 20 1.7
3 Jaren Jackson MEM 19 1.5
4 Marvin Bagley SAC 19 1.2
5 Mitchell Robinson NYK 20 1.2

Steals leaders:

Rk Player Team Age STL
1 Mikal Bridges PHO 22 1.2
2 Jaren Jackson MEM 19 1
3 Josh Okogie MIN 20 1
4 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander LAC 20 0.8
5 Luka Doncic DAL 19 0.8

A Closer Look at Luka

As I am sure you noticed, Luka doesn’t only show up on a lot of these lists, he shows up near the top.  Some of a rookie’s performance has to do with playing opportunity, but Luka doesn’t only do great in the counting stats, he is very efficient as he racks up his numbers.  Here is a summary of where he stands in each category:

Category Luka Rookie Rank
Minutes 34.4 1
Points 20.3 1
Rebounds 6.5 3
Assists 4.5 2
FG % 48.9% 7
3P % 39.5% 7
FT % 76% 10
Blocks 0.3 T-13
Steals 0.8 5

Look at that all-around game!  Efficient scoring, excellent rebounding for his position, and elite playmaking, Luka can do it all!

It almost seems unfair to compare to his fellow rookie peers.  He has an all-around game that hardly any veteran NBA stars can match.

So, just for fun, let’s take a look at how Luka’s stats stacks up against some of the greatest players of all time in their rookie or age 19 season.  The following shows the Per 36 minutes numbers for several players in their either their rookie season or their age 19 season, meaning, nobody in this comparison is younger or less experienced than Luka.

Player Age G FG% 3P% FT% REB AST STL BLK TOV PTS
Kobe Bryant 19 79 43% 34% 79% 4.2 3.5 1.3 0.7 2.7 21.4
Larry Bird 23 82 47% 41% 84% 10 4.5 1.7 0.6 3.2 21.3
Luka Doncic 19 12 49% 40% 76% 6.8 4.7 0.9 0.3 4.4 21.3
LeBron James 19 79 42% 29% 75% 5 5.4 1.5 0.7 3.1 19.1
Magic Johnson 20 77 53% 23% 81% 7.7 7.3 2.4 0.5 3.9 17.9

Kind of scary how well he looks here…scoring as well and as efficiently as anyone.  His 3 point percentage is great and he is making 2.3/game compared to Larry Bird’s 0.7/game.  Can you believe Larry was pulling down 10 rebounds/game in his rookie year? I don’t care if he was 23, that’s impressive.  I know it is only 12 games into his career, but make no mistake about it, Luka Doncic is SPECIAL!

One area that you can see Luka needs to improve is with the turnovers.   4.4 per game is definitely too many, this has been a Mavericks team problem all season and Luka is the main culprit. He is such an efficient scorer, 40% from 3 and a giant-killing floater in the lane, if Luka can be come a more efficient passer he will be absolutely unstoppable off the pick-and-roll.  It is early, but right now there is no ceiling for Luka.

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