Luka Doncic has taken the league by storm this season, putting up a whopping 28.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG, and 8.8 APG. He has also managed to carry the Mavericks to an unexpected playoff spot in the Western Conference. Luka simply has a tremendous impact on the game and has even entered the conversation as one of the best players in the world. 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. Despite losing the Rookie of the Year Award to Ja Morant, Zion has made a statement that he is one of the best young prospects in the NBA after averaging 22.5 PPG, 6.3 RPG, and 2.1 APG. His debut, where he put up 22 points, was one of the most exciting moments of the NBA season. 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.
But which player is truly better? Does Luka's all-around play usurp Zion's extreme athleticism? By placing them head to head in all the key attributes, it is time to find out who is the better player between Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic and Pelicans franchise player Zion Williamson.
Scoring - Luka Doncic
This one is close because Zion can be completely unstoppable. His physical gifts mean he can dominate the paint for easy buckets and he has shown that he won't be a liability from the perimeter. Zion has a nice jumper and he will improve on that as his career goes on. Zion Williamson is a franchise player and his scoring ability is the main reason why. He averaged 22.5 PPG this season on 58.3% shooting in his rookie season.
Luka also had a tremendous season and put up a monster 28.8 PPG in only his second year. Luka can hit the three and also attack the paint very well thanks to explosiveness and ball handling. Doncic shot 46.3% from the field including 31.6% from three, although his shooting percentages are skewed because he has to take a lot of shots. Overall, Luka's scoring numbers and consistency in the offense all season long gives him the edge.
Athleticism - Zion Williamson
Zion is clearly a better athlete in terms of speed, vertical, strength, and everything that comes with being athletic. Williamson is already one of the most explosively athletic players in recent memory, and it's his athleticism why he is already an extremely popular player. Williamson stands 6'6" and weighs 285 lbs, yet can explode off his feet for jams and blocks on the other end. Zion is a freight train that is similar to LeBron James, except Zion weights at least 15 lbs more. He is a scary athlete to say the very least.
Doncic is actually underrated in terms of athleticism because he has very broad shoulders and can absorb contact at the rim very well. If it wasn't for his build, it would be much harder for Luka to be effective as a playmaker and particularly as a scorer. Luka is strong for his age and had an NBA-ready body in his rookie season. But there is absolutely no doubt that Zion has the edge in athleticism and not a single soul will dispute that.
Defense - Zion Williamson
Doncic is a machine on the offensive end but he isn't quite as good on defense. In fact, he has looked like a liability at times. Luka doesn't seem to be blessed with the great horizontal speed in his movement and can get beat quite a few times on the defensive end. Unsurprisingly, he is the case of another superstar in today's NBA that doesn't quite have the same impact on defense although he didn't average 1.0 SPG.
Zion Williamson, although missed most of his first season, has already shown he is no pushovers in the paint. In fact, he just might be a force on the defensive end. Zion Williamson was a beast in college mainly because he affected shots around the rim and bullied players on defense. There is no surprise if he can emulate that in the NBA because he already has a grown man's body. Williamson is already a better defensive player than Luka and has the potential to be a force on that end.
Clutch - Luka Doncic
Zion was very impactful during his rookie season but he didn't show enough that he was clutch in a very small sample size. Doncic, on the other hand, has already arrived as a big shot maker. Luka is the #1 option for the Dallas Mavericks despite only finishing his 2nd year in the league, and he has shined in that role. He has done everything for his team and that includes taking over the clutch.
Doncic has multiple moments of hitting big shots this season and it is mainly through his marksmanship shooting that he can get buckets. When he explodes to the rim, he can finish with a soft touch and absorb hits well. He is the real deal and looks to be the type of player who can handle being the #1 option on offense for the rest of his career. He isn't afraid of the moment, and he will likely be a better clutch performer than Zion throughout their careers.
Leadership - Luka Doncic
Leadership is extremely important when scouting young players. While Doncic and Zion both can e NBA superstars who are the faces of the NBA for the long term, their leadership must be shown by their ability to lead their teammates on and off the court. Zion Williamson has an imposing presence and talent to do so, and Luka has the undeniable skills to do so as well. But which player is the better leader so far?
Zion Williamson has stepped into a great situation with the New Orleans Pelicans where he has lots of young talent around him including Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. Zion is expected to be the man to lead his young team very soon, and time will tell if he can manage to do that with success. Luka Doncic has already begun leasing his teammates and they seem to follow his lead on the court. He has shown pressure in team decision making and handles the spotlight of being the best player on a playoff very well.
Luka has shown he can be a very good leader, and yet another edge goes to the Mavericks superstar in this comparison.
Impact - Luka Doncic
It is important to understand that this comparison is based on Zion's sample size and Lukas's past 2 seasons. Therefore, Zion's expected impact is not taken into consideration yet. Williamson looks to be the type of player to dominate both ends of the floor and he is expected to be just that very soon. But Luka Doncic has already alarmingly impacted the league. He nearly averaged a triple-double, carried the Mavericks all year long to the playoffs, and is already being compared to the likes of Larry Bird. Doncic has the offensive impact that ranks among the very best, and that is why he has the edge.
There is no doubt that Zion Williamson will be a superstar and he has shown his versatility in the NBA with his rebounding and scoring. He is a nice playmaker as well and can be a force on defense. The future is exciting for the Pelicans star but as of right now, Luka Doncic has MVP -type impact on his team.
1 on 1 Game - Luka Doncic
Zion has the potential to be unstoppable inside the paint due to his size and strength, and he already showed signs he can mix it up with some shooting as well. But he isn't Luka Doncic in one on one situations. Luka has already become one of the most unstoppable offensive machines in the NBA and is starting to see double teams come his way in only his second season. He is just too deadly with the ball in his hands and will score the ball every time if there isn't a top-class defender guarding him.
We still have not seen the full impact of what Zion can do, but we have already seen Luka's tremendous ability to beat defenders off the dribble and even hit his signature stepback jump shot. Luka is the better one on one player right now and there is no debate about that. Another advantage goes to Doncic in this comparison.
Career - Luka Doncic
Overall, their careers are not too hard to gauge because Luka is in his second year and Zion just finished his first. While both players impressed over their rookie seasons, Luka has had a better career so far.
Zion, unfortunately, missed the first half of the rookie season with injury but returned halfway to show the NBA Universe what he can bring to the table. He had a tremendous NBA debut with 21 points and he gave a very small sample of what to expect from him next season. Luka also had a strong rookie season last year, winning Rookie of the Year in a landslide and making it known he was the new franchise player for the Mavericks. This year, in his second season, he blossomed into a superstar and one of the 10 best players in the league.
Lukas All-Star berth this season as a Western Conference starter and his playoff experience in only his second year gives him the edge over Zion so far.
Zion Williamson vs. Luka Doncic 2-6
This was a great comparison because we might be looking at 2 of the best players in the league very soon. While Doncic has already arrived as such, he will likely be taking the next step to MVP status very soon while Zion is looking to keep healthy and reach the heights that are expected of him. Both players have Hall of Fame talent and will be franchise players for the rest of their careers, but Luka Doncic has managed to make a separation at this point in their careers.
Doncic is slowly becoming an MVP player and he very well might start receiving votes for it next year. He led his team to the Playoffs when no one expected Dallas to do anything and was even the best player on a #1 ranked offense. Zion Williamson will have his time very soon, but Doncic is the man right now.