Luka Doncic has taken the league by storm this season, putting up a whopping 28.7 PPG, 9.3 RPG, and 8.7 APG. He has also managed to carry his relatively weak supporting cast to a playoff seed in the Wild West.
Luka simply has a tremendous impact on the game and has even started drawing comparisons to the great Larry Bird thanks to his shooting and passing ability. A legitimate triple-double threat every night, Luka managed to capture a Western All-Star berth as a starter in only his second season.
In the same conference, Zion Williamson has begun to shake up the league despite being absent from the first half of the entire season. While Ja Morant looked to be running away with the Rookie of the Year Award, Zion has played himself right into the conversation by averaging 23.6 PPG, 6.8 RPG, and 2.2 APG. His debut, where he put up 22 points including 17 big fourth-quarter points.
Zion’s ability to capture the audience with spectacular athleticism and highlight-reel plays makes him one of the most popular players in the world. His talent is immense and is already establishing himself as one of the best offensive rebounders in the league by averaging 3.1 offensive boards per game.
Both players are clearly big-time players that can be the cornerstones of any franchise, but which player will lead to greater long-term success?
The Case For Zion Williamson
Zion is a player who seems to be a consistent performer. His ability to crash the boards, attack the basket, and even hit shots from the perimeter is exciting to watch. He is clearly one of the best teenagers in the world, and the most hyped player to enter the league since LeBron James. His heavy frame and supreme athleticism make him a must-watch player at all times. In terms of filling in seats and encouraging viewers to tune in television, Zion is possibly the biggest box office attraction in the NBA outside of LeBron James.
Zion’s stats also back up his play as well. He is shooting 58.2% from the field and 41.7% from three. While his 3-point shooting is probably not sustainable over his career, his field goal percentage certainly is. Zion plays mostly around the basket, using his size and quickness to explode to the rim.
Even as he ages, Zion will probably always be one of the better rebounders in the league since he remains active on the offensive boards. While Zion will never be Ray Allen, he has shown that he can hit perimeter shots on a consistent basis. One of the biggest worries of Zion’s game was that he would be a liability from the perimeter, like Ben Simmons, but he has put these doubts to rest. He is only shooting 64% from the free-throw line, but that number will surely increase as he gets more reps on an NBA court.
The only knock on Zion right now is his weight and his style of play which may make him injury-prone. Not to mention, Zion often looks out of control which can be worrying. Leaping and landing on such a heavy frame leaves you wincing in hoping he doesn’t get a knock. For the time being, it’s best we enjoy him as he is because he might be looking to lean down in the near future.
The Case For Luka Doncic
Luka, on the other end, is a more controlled player. He seems to do everything right on the floor without ever seeming in a rush or out of place. He plays the game as if he is a 15-year veteran. In comparison to Zion, Luka seems like he is a veteran. Doncic is already the main ball handler, main scorer, and go-to clutch option for the 40-27 Mavericks who have exceeded all expectations this season. With Porzingis back from injury, many felt that Dallas was at least a year or two removed from playoff contention. But Lukas production as one of the top five performers in the West this year has earned the Mavs a playoff spot.
Perhaps most importantly, Luka has almost no weakness in his game. At only 21 years of age, this is something that is scary to see. He can hit the three and has even shown the desire to attack and draw fouls. Luka averages 9.1 free throws a game and nails 76% of them. He can take contact and seems to find easy ways to score the ball instead of forcing the issue or playing out of the offense. He is truly an impactful player, who can completely be the key cog of a system.
While scouts may have doubts about Zion’s weight, playing style, or shooting, it will be hard to find many scouts who can criticize anything that Luka does on the floor. He might not be a defensive stopper at his position but has a full-sized NBA frame which can come in handy in guarding bigs. Luka already ranks top 15 in rebounds, more than Anthony Davis and his teammate Kristaps Porzingis.
The fact that Luka plays in a more controlled fashion, and already has a complete game gives him the edge in being a franchise superstar over Zion at this moment.