Luka Doncic recorded the first ever 60-point, 20-rebound triple-double in NBA history on Tuesday in a win over the New York Knicks. Doncic totaled 60 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists in the Dallas Mavericks’ victory. He’s arguably the best player in the world, and an MVP front-runner. But like many before him, he will realize being the best in a vacuum is not enough to win a championship.
— Dallas Mavericks (@dallasmavs) December 28, 2022
The Legend Of Luka
Doncic has been phenomenal essentially since he set foot in the NBA as a teenager in 2018. He’s a three-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA. This season he’s operating at an even greater level.
The counting stats are eye popping. He’s averaging 33 points, eight rebounds and eight assists per game on 50/35/74 shooting splits.
His advanced metrics crystalize how good he’s been. Doncic is second in EPM and first by almost one full point per 100 possessions in offensive EPM. All while doing so on 62 TS% and 57% eFG efficiency splits. He is No. 1 in earned wins. Third in WS/48. First in OBPM and first in VORP.
Recap / Appreciation of Luka Doncic’s absurd performance last night
67.7% FG (21/31)
33.3% 3FG (2/6)
72.7% FT (16/22)
One of the greatest individual performances in a single game of all time. Highlights ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/kHL4sKPp5L
— Coast 2 Coast (@Coast2CoastNBA) December 28, 2022
But Doncic is doing so at an absurdly high usage rate, 37%. Third in the league. He’s also averaging 37 minutes per game. For all his exploits, the Mavericks are only 19-16 and sit in sixth place in the Western Conference.
This type of heliocentric play will earn him more accolades and possibly his first MVP award. But it’s not sustainable if the ultimate goal is to win a title.
Legends Need Championships
In his historic performance in an overtime win, he scored half of the Mavericks points and took 35% of the teams total shots. That’s not a recipe for success in the playoffs when facing the best teams in the league.
In any potential playoff series against any opponent Doncic can be the best player. That in and of itself makes the Mavericks a contender. But to keep that level of play up for four straight playoff series where coaches game plan specifically to stop you will be difficult.
Many of the game’s greats have gone through this very scenario.
Luka Doncic is unreal 🔥
Is he your leading MVP candidate? pic.twitter.com/CD8Dv30b5L
— Playmaker (@playmaker) December 28, 2022
Michael Jordan’s 63 point playoff performance in a loss against the Boston Celtics comes to mind.
Doncic and the Mavericks did advance to the conference finals last season. But given their performance against the eventual champion Golden State Warriors in that series, it showed that as a team they’re not on that level.
The Mavericks have opted for the live by the three, die by the three approach again this season. As a team they take the third-most threes per game in the league, but are only 14th (middle of the league) in percentage made. That will have to improve.
Doncic will do his part, but he will need some help from his friends if the Mavericks want to return to the conference finals or NBA Finals. Spencer Dinwiddie, Tim Hardaway Jr., Christian Wood and Reggie Bullock will have to play big roles. Bigger roles than they have so far this season.
In NBA debate when discussing the merits of one player over another, rings are often a metric used to enhance or diminish a player’s résumé. Even though titles are team accomplishments, not individual.
Doncic is great and on his way to being an all-timer if he continues, but nobody wins titles alone.