LeBron James is in the twilight of his career, he has been the face of the NBA for years and it brings one question to the forefront: Who will be the next face of the NBA?
When transitioning to a new face of the league, you look for elite talent, leadership, appeal to global audience, marketability and charismatic personality. One player who has those attributes is 24-year-old superstar Luka Dončić, whose traits show he can become the next face of the NBA.
He’s a student of the game with his basketball IQ and a triple-double threat every night. From his step-backs and no-look passes, his style of play blends modern-day flair with traditional skills, making the game easier for everyone around him.
His impact on the court through his playmaking, scoring ability, rebounding and clutch performances set him apart as a player you want representing your league.
Dončić joined Larry Bird, George Gervin and Kevin Durant last season as the only players to earn four All-NBA First Team selections in their first five seasons. He also joined James, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Isiah Thomas and Anthony Davis as the only players to earn four All-Star nods before their 24th birthday.
The 6’7” guard averaged at least 20.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.0 assists in each of his first five seasons, joining Oscar Robertson (first 6 seasons, 1960-61 to 1965-66) as the only players in NBA history to average at least 20-7-5 in each of their first five seasons. He has also recorded three of the 11 seasons in NBA history averaging at least 28.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists (Robertson, 5 times, is the only other player to record multiple such seasons).
Dončić averaged a career-high 32.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 8.0 assists in 2022-23 en route to joining Michael Jordan (32.5 ppg, 8.0 rpg and 8.0 apg in 1988-89) as the only players in NBA history to average at least 32.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists for a season.
Among NBA all-time leaders, Dončić ranks 10th in triple-doubles (58), eighth in 20-point triple-doubles (53), fifth in 30-point triple-doubles (32) and tied for fifth in 40-point triple-doubles (6).
Dončić produced eight 30-point, 10-rebound, 15-assist games, the second-most in league history (Robertson, 22). He recorded two 30-point, 20-rebound, 10-assist games, making him one of six players in NBA history to produce multiple 30-20-10 efforts (Robertson, Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Nikola Jokić, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar)
Dončić became the first player in NBA history to record a 60-point, 20-rebound triple-double when he poured in a career-high 60 points to go with a career-best 21 rebounds and 10 assists in the team’s thrilling 126-121 OT win against the Knicks (12/27/22). He Became the fourth player in NBA history (Robertson, Magic Johnson, Russell Westbrook) to produce a 30-point, 20-assist triple-double when he went for 31 points, 12 rebounds and a career-high 20 assists in a 125-124 win against the Wizards (5/1/21).
Dončić demonstrates leadership on and off the court. He takes ownership as a leader of the Dallas Mavericks, sharing the praise of his teammates when the team has success and takes the blame when the team falls in defeat. He sets the tone on the court as the big playmaker, dynamic scorer, top rebounder and controls the pace of the game. His size and shot-making makes him difficult to guard and his late-game heroics makes him must-see television.
Off the court, he shows leadership by giving back to the community of Dallas and his home country Slovenia. Whether it’s donating pairs of shoes to healthcare workers, building new courts in his hometown Ljubljana (and Madrid), signing autographs, granting wishes by spending a few minutes with children asking to see him or spending time at community events, Dončić takes the time to give back. Dončić also served as a tour guide for his teammates in Spain during the preseason trip abroad.
He values winning and has said he’d rather win a championship when asked about individual awards like MVP.
The NBA announced that a record 125 international players from 40 countries and territories across six continents were on opening-night rosters for the 2023-24 season.
Four international players were selected on the 2023-24 All-NBA First Team. Dončić (Slovenia) joined Nikola Jokić (Serbia), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada) and Joel Embiid (Cameroon).
The game is growing around the globe each year and Dončić has the international appeal that transcends the league. He speaks four languages, which include Slovenian, Spanish, English and Serbian. His success in the NBA and flair on the court has expanded the league’s fan base across Europe and beyond.
Dončić is always one of the rope jerseys sold for the NBA. He made an offensive lineman number cool to wear in the NBA.
Top selling NBA jerseys
2018-19 (rookie season): 13th
Dončić already has his own branding with Jordan, which has successful been successful since signing with the company. He has his own signature shoes, Jordan Luka 1 and Jordan Luka 2. His peers in the NBA, WNBA and overseas have worn his signature shoe.
In the NBA, we have seen players like Paolo Banchero, Obi Toppin, Grant Williams, Bruce Brown, Tim Hardaway Jr., Mark Williams and Marcus Sasser worn his shoe. Players in the WNBA, including Satou Sabally, Rhyne Howard, Lexie Brown, Teaira McCowan, Gabby Williams, Crystal Dangerfield, Natisha Heideman and Dana Evans have worn the signature shoes of Dončić.
This merger between talent and personality makes Dončić a marketable asset for the NBA for commercials, print ads, banners and social media content.
From post-game pressers to trick shots, Dončić always displays his joyful personality and sense of humor that makes everyone smile. It’s a trait he has that you feel when you are in his vicinity. Whether interacting with fans, media, or fellow players, Dončić’s friendly and approachable demeanor contributes to his charisma off the court. It shows the visual reminder that the sport is fun to play and his love for the game of basketball.
Dončić has averaged 32.6 points, 8.5 assists and 8.4 rebounds in 10 games this season. He is shooting 52.6% from the field and 41.7% beyond the arc.
Dončić has the trajectory of an all-time great and still hasn’t even started his prime. He is a strong candidate to lead the new generation of talent and become the league’s next face.