Is Luka Doncic a top five player?

Luka Doncic
Luka Doncic has quickly become one of the best players in the league. Photo from Mavs Moneyball.

Luka Doncic. A player that has divided the basketball world even before he stepped onto an NBA court. The narrative heading into the draft was largely based on the question can Luka be effective in the NBA or not? We are long past that question and today we are asking whether Luka is a top 5 player in the NBA?  We will look at the Luka Doncic stats 2021 and his play, so let’s not waste any time.

All is known about Luka Doncic and his game. Even basketball casual fans know about his skillset.

He entered the NBA as the best player in Europe and quickly established himself as one of the best European players in the NBA. In his first years, she showed his skillset and his stats were far away from what one might expect from a rookie. He was a seasoned veteran already but a rookie in the NBA nonetheless.

From that point, his skillset remained largely the same but he did not remain the same player. Since his rookie year, he has gotten better in many different aspects of his game. He raised his usage and his scoring. He upped his shooting percentage each year including his eFG percentage, which is the highest this year.

2021 is his best year to date and the numbers confirm it. Check it out…

Luka Doncic stats 2021

GP MIN FG% 3P% FT% REB AST BLK STL PF TO PTS
58 35.2 48.6 35.3 72.8 8.0 8.9 0.6 1.0 2.4 4.3 28.6

Source – ESPN

He is shooting 48.6% from the field compared to 46.3% last year. He is shooting 35% from three compared to 31% last year and his eFG % is up from 53.1% last year to 55.6% this year.

Those are not only the stats of the best European player in the NBA but also one of the best NBA players in 2021.


Is Luka Doncic a top 5 player?

So let’s circle back to our initial question. Is Luka a top 5 player?

Well yes and no.

The 2021 stats of Luka Doncic clearly put him in the mix for that honour. After all, he has played most of the games compared to many other players that have missed considerable time this season.

It’s unfair to hold that against them but it does matter a lot. Look at the Lakers and what happened to them with their best players going down. Without Luka, the Mavs would not make the playoffs, so his worth is immense to the team. That qualifies him again for the conversation of a top 5 player in the league.

Is he the best player in the league? No, but he doesn’t have to be as long as he leads his team to success.

Last year, he became the youngest player ever to be named to an All-NBA First team. He was spectacular for the Mavs in the playoffs and he will lead them to their first postseason series win since 2011 eventually.

So what would disqualify him from the conversation of being a top 5 player in the league?

Not many players have better stats than Luka Doncic. Well, it comes down to talent. Since he entered the league he upped his game in a lot of ways but largely his game remained the same. He did not become a better shooter he simply chooses his spots better. His free throw percentage actually reduced and his complaining to the refs increased as well resulting in a spike in technical fouls this year.

Talent-wise he is not a top 5 player in the league. He’s probably not even top 10, especially if the whole league is healthy, which it currently is not.

But the conversation is about 2021 and with all the injuries and limited availability he might very well be among the top 5 NBA players. Luka Doncic has the stats, his value to his team is immense and without him, they would fall apart. On the other hand, if you asked a casual NBA fan to name their top 5 players his name often times would be left out of it.

Has Doncic become a good defender?

Defence in the NBA has always been a controversial topic. A lot of it has to do with the fact that defence does not really show up on the boxscore. It’s not like points and rebounds or assists.

So when you look at his numbers they are nothing too crazy. But numbers have never been a good way to determine a good defender. So to determine if he improved we need to look at film.

The film says Doncic has not only improved as a defender but he is actually trending to becoming a good one. His first improvement is his anticipation which is miles better than before. He is causing more turnovers than ever despite his steals being roughly the same as last year. He is also quite strong on defence thanks to his weight which was criticized before the season but in this case, it’s a plus for him.

But the biggest difference is his ISO defence which has improved dramatically. Only two players allow fewer points per possession when defending iso plays. Doncic is now a 95 percentile iso defender while last year he was 35 percentile. Plainly, he isn’t getting picked on as much as he used to last year and even when he does, he is really good at defending the play.

The caveat to this improvement is the fact that the Mavs as a team play a lot better defence than last year.

Obviously that improved Doncic’s defence as well, but with his absurd offensive output that would be more than enough. If he can stay a good team defender with his stellar offensive output he will certainly be recognized not only as an MVP candidate or All-NBA First team candidate but also a top 5 player in the league.

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About Drew Tate 18 Articles
Drew Tate is a long time NBA fan and basketball enthusiast. He has followed the best basketball league in the world for over 15 years. After watching it for such a long time, Drew developed an interest in writing about the league, which they have done for the past several years. Drew's main interest in the league is the players whose development he has followed keenly ever since their college days. Besides that, he enjoys anything that involves analyzing the game of basketball.

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