Which NBA star has improved the most this season?
Every year, the NBA will produce players that take the step from benchwarmer to role player or from role player to starter or from starter to All-Star. But, what we’re looking at here are players that have already established themselves as stars but have once again, elevated their games to a whole new level.
When looking at NBA stars that have improved the most so far this season, a few names come to mind: Is it Rockets shooting guard James Harden? Timberwolves big man Karl-Anthony Towns? 2019 NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo? Second-year phenom Luka Dončič? Someone else entirely?
I think if we look at it from a pure statistical perspective, Dončič would have to be my choice. No offense to Harden, whose 39.5 points per game would be the highest mark since Wilt Chamberlain dropped 44.8 points per game all the way back in 1962-63 or Antetokounmpo who is inexplicably having an even better year than his incredible MVP last season — if this were an article of who the best player on that aforementioned list was, those two would have a leg up on Dončič.
However, that’s not what this article is about and what the 6-foot-7 Slovenian is doing in only his second year in the league is historic and unlike anything we’ve seen in at least a very very long time.
Dončič had already established himself as a star as a rookie when he averaged 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in one of the best rookie seasons in NBA history.
This year though, Dončič, who is only 20 years old has transformed into a legitimate MVP candidate and from rookie phenom into undoubtedly one of the top players in the entire league.
The 20-year-old has upped his scoring by over nine points to 30.7 per game, is grabbing over 10 rebounds per game and dishing out nearly 10 assists per game. Not only that, but Dončič is doing all of this in roughly the same minutes per game as last year and doing it all while being more efficient shooting 48.4 percent from the field, up from 42.7 percent last year.
Last month, the NBA sophomore became just the third person in league history to average a 30-point triple-double over a calendar month joining Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson.
It was clear from the start that Dončič would be something special in this league but not many expected him to hit this level of play this early in his career. If he’s this good in only his second season, it’s scary to think how good he could be in the future.
With the addition of former Knicks star Kristaps Porzingis to the team this year, you would think Dončič’s stats, at least scoring wise, might take a dip as the team has more scoring options and overall talent. Instead, Dončič is the clear top player on the Mavericks.
And not only is he playing well, but the 2018 No. 3 overall pick’s play is also translating to wins for a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2016.
Credit to Porzingis and the other players on the team but after a bit of a rough start for the team, Luka’s excellent play has allowed the Mavericks to win eight of their last nine games as well as knocking off the NBA-leading Lakers in LA.
A few stars this year have elevated their games and Dončič probably isn’t the best overall player out of all of them but for my money, he’s the most improved.