Luka expects to stack up many awards over his NBA career, hopefully starting with 2019 KIA Rookie of the Year. He is having such a big impact this season, it had me wondering if Luka has a chance to go beyond Rookie of the Year and be named as a Western Conference All-Star this season.
Luka is having an extraordinary rookie season, already excelling as the best player on the Mavericks team. His size, skills, instincts and clutch shooting have him quickly earning respect of NBA veterans and Head Coaches around the league.
These are Luka’s stats as of November 22, just 17 games into the season:
Rookies named NBA All-Star Since 1985:
*Statistics shown are for their entire Rookie season, not at the time All Star voting was done.
|1985||Michael Jordan||Chicago Bulls||Yes||28||6.5||6|
|1985||Hakeem Olajuwon||Houston Rockets||No||20.6||12||1.4|
|1986||Patrick Ewing||New York Knicks||No||20||9||2|
|1990||David Robinson||San Antonio Spurs||No||24.3||12||2|
|1992||Dikembe Mutombo||Denver Nuggets||No||16.6||12||2.2|
|1993||Shaquille O’Neal||Orlando Magic||Yes||23.4||14||1.9|
|1995||Grant Hill||Detroit Pistons||Yes||20||6.4||5|
|1998||Tim Duncan||San Antonio Spurs||No||21||12||2.7|
|2003||Yao Ming||Houston Rockets||Yes||13.5||8||1.7|
|2011||Blake Griffin||Los Angeles Clippers||No||22.5||12||3.8|
How crazy was it that all of these great big guys were in the NBA at the same time, what a different looking NBA it was 20-30 years ago, the age of the big man. Then Dirk came alone and changed it all. But as it relates to Luka, only 2 players on this list are comparable to his role as scorer and ball handler and that’s Michael Jordan and Grant Hill. Hill’s numbers are very similar to Luka, Jordan is just unfair. The main takeaway from this chart is that there is precedent for a Rookie to make the All Star team, it is just very rare, especially since the year 2000.
Let’s see how Luka stacks up against last year’s Western Conference All Stars:
|2018 Western Conference All-Stars|
The Western Conference is loaded, plain and simple. But some of these players have moved to the Eastern Conference and some are injured, opening up places for a few new players to step in. Before we look at how Luka stacks up against the other potential All Stars this season, let’s run down the All Star selection process to figure out how these players are chosen.
All Star Voting Process
Voting for Starters: 3 frontcourt players and 2 guards are chosen. The new system, put in place last season, is weighted as follows: Fan vote counts for 50 percent, players’ vote 25 percent and media vote 25 percent. The lowest 3 weighted frontcourt scores and the lowest 2 weighted guard scores are chosen as the starters. If there’s a tie, the fan vote is the tiebreaker.
Luka will be classified as frontcourt, so we will just focus on other Western conference forwards and centers. This is how the voting looked last season:
|2018 Western Conference Frontcourt Voting Summary|
|Player||Team||Fan Rank||Player Rank||Media Rank||Weighted Score|
|3. * Cousins||NOP||4||3||4||3.75|
You can see the importance of the fan vote when you look at these numbers. Fan vote is 50% of the ranking for the weighted score. If you look at Draymond Green, he was 7th in player rank and 6th in media rank but still almost made top 3 because he was 2nd in fan vote. I highly doubt that will be the case for Draymond this season but maybe it can be for Luka Doncic. Dallas is crazy for Luka, there is no doubt about it. Go to a game or read Mavericks material and you will find it oozing with Luka love, so I expect the fan voting from Dallas to be strong. But Luka also has a very strong European following that will give him an additional boost in the fan voting relative to some of the other players.
Choosing Reserves: This is done by a vote among the head coaches from each team’s respective conference. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own players. If a selected player is injured and cannot participate, the NBA commissioner selects a replacement. Last year there were 6 guards and 6 frontcourt players chosen from each conference to make up each 12 person team. Last year there were 3 players injured, requiring replacement, making the actual number of players chosen as All-Stars 27.
Choosing Teams: The vote leaders for each conferences are assigned as captains and can choose from a pool of players named as all-stars to form their teams. The newly formed teams will also play for a charity of choice to help the games remain competitive.
Can Luka Make it?
When it comes down to it, there are some players that are locks to be All Stars and some that are very likely to be chosen. Last year there were 6 guards and 6 frontcourt players on the roster for each team:
Locks – probably your Western Conference frontcourt starters.
Likely – The way it looks right now, these will be your frontcourt reserves in the West. But there is no sure thing, if any of their teams severely under-perform or if they do not stay on the court, there is a chance these players don’t make it.
Debatable – The next tier of frontcourt players in the West would be these 7. There is not a whole lot separating these players statistically. Below is a statistical heat map that illustrates which categories each players excels and which ones they struggle with relative to the other players listed. Green cells are good, red are bad.
You can see Luka has a great all-around game. basically tied for 2nd in points, 1st in assists, and is very solid shooting percentages.
He does not look out of place on this list (unless you look at the age column) but he does not jump out either. Remember, the reserves are voted in by coaches in the Western Conference, so it is going to be their view of these players that counts. A major part of who is selected will be their team’s performance at that point in the season, around late December.
Luka is only 17 games into his rookie season, when All-Star voting starts he will be about 30 games in and by the time voting closes and reserves are chosen, he will be close to 45 games. That is a lot of time to continue improving individually and for the Mavericks to turn things around and make up the 2 or 3 games needed to put them among the playoff contenders. If Luka keeps getting better, like he has, and the Mavericks keep getting better, which they have, I think Luka has a legit shot to be considered for a reserve All Star spot. This would be an accomplishment that would put him on a list of some of the greatest players of all time, but I think he is already getting used to that.