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Mavs’ Rick Carlisle says Luka Doncic is the best rookie since LeBron James

Rick Carlisle, Luka Doncic, LeBron James, Mavs

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle describes Luka Doncic’s stellar rookie campaign as being on the same level as some of the NBA’s Hall of Famers and in particular, hailing it as the best he has seen since LeBron James.

There have been plenty of amazing rookies since 2003 but Carlisle’s claim certainly holds some weight, especially how it stacks up to James. The 2004 Rookie of the Year posted averages of 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists (3.5 turnovers) on his first year while Doncic closed the 2018-19 season with higher numbers across the board at 21.2 points (better field goal and three-point percentages), 7.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and a slightly lower turnover rate. These numbers also put him in rare company with Oscar Robertson being the only rookie to pull off the feat. In addition, the Mavs’ Slovenian sensation had eight triple-doubles (four of which came before his 20th birthday and the first to pull off a 30-point triple-double) putting him in third place, surpassing Magic Johnson.

Doncic came storming out of the gates in 2018, pulling away from the Rookie of the Year debate by dominating the first five months of the season before the Atlanta Hawks’ Trae Young started to turn heads with a spectacular March that also led to victories for his squad while the Mavs floundered as a result of some trades that essentially gutted the roster. The 6-foot-7 positionless Mav remains the heavy favorite to win the award but it at least puts to rest the ceaseless taunts to the Hawks’ for passing over him.