Luka Doncic is on the track to becoming an all-time basketball great. Despite being just 23 years old, Doncic has established himself as one of the best players in the league by being a perennial NBA MVP candidate and All-NBA First Team player. His playoff performances are building a legacy of their own, as Doncic keep matching pace with Michael Jordan to be the all-time leader in PPG in Playoff history.
Doncic's impact on the game is often compared to that of LeBron James. People have already been drawing comparisons between the 2007 Cleveland Cavaliers that LeBron James took to the Finals and the 2022 Dallas Mavericks that currently sit in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
Warriors' forward and veteran Draymond Green is intimately familiar with the comparisons between Luka and LeBron. Having played LeBron in four NBA Finals and now facing Luka in the Western Conference Finals, Draymond extensively broke down the comparison and why there is merit to people looking at Doncic as the next LeBron in terms of their playing styles.
"One of the main glaring similarities that stick out to you is how those two guys can manipulate the defense. How those two guys can control the pace of a game at their size, with their passing ability, and the way they can put pressure on the rim and pressure on the defense. With the vision that they have, they're a lot alike. They both understand what they're trying to get to on the court and they will be very methodical in getting to whatever it is that they know that they want to get to. There are not many people in this league that can control a game or control the tempo and pace of a game like that. I think one of the things that it requires is an uncanny ability for thinking about the game of basketball."
LeBron is a bigger player than Luka, as a 6'9 athletic freak of nature. James has a career full of highlight dunks whereas Luka does his scoring through a lot more finesse and shooting. However, their control over the game is eerily identical, as they are strong enough to match up with most wing defenders. Both also possess genius-level basketball IQ that allows them to manipulate the game for 48 minutes.
"If you can be sped up, you can't control a game, you can't control the pace of a game. You can't speed Luka up. Luka is going to get to what he wants. You can't speed LeBron James up. LeBron James is going to get to exactly what he wants to."
People have spoken about Luka always playing at his own pace for years now, and Draymond finally shed some reason as to why he is able to do so. His size, awareness, and control of the ball all make for a very deadly combination and this is without factoring in his ability to create open opportunities for others. LeBron's playmaking abilities were always known but were highlighted after he took a pass-first role during the 2020 NBA Championship season for LA.
"Luka is 23, obviously he can't do it at the level that LeBron does it at yet, because LeBron has done it for so long, he's seen every defense possible. You just can't teach experience… But I definitely see the similarities there."
Age is a massive factor. Doncic has been playing NBA basketball for just about 4 years and is yet to have a lot of playoff experience. This is his first deep playoff run, as he was eliminated by Kawhi Leonard's LA Clippers in back-to-back years. However, facing one of the best defensive players of this generation and averaging over 30 points against his team in the playoffs is a great indicator of how special Doncic really is.
The comparisons with LeBron will only gain more steam as James looks to slowly wind down one of the greatest careers in NBA history. But if he is leaving with Doncic continuing on the path he is, the league will be in good hands. Whether Doncic can live up to this billing for 20-years as LeBron has is another argument entirely.