Sometimes when a player breaks a record, it is impossible for the previous record holder to set the mark again. Mavericks star Luka Doncic recently did that when he set a new record that had been held by LeBron James, who will never be able to surpass the mark that Doncic set. Doncic is in just his second season in the league, so he has a long way to go to become a veteran of the stature of James, but is there any comparison between the two players? So, what was the record that Doncic set?
Doncic and James entering the NBA and rookie seasons
LeBron James famously was the top pick in the 2003 draft, coming directly out of high school before the league prohibited players from doing that. James put up some of the worst stats of his career as a rookie, averaging 20.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game.
Luka Doncic was also a high pick, with the Hawks choosing him No. 3 overall in the 2018 draft. He came out of the gate strong, averaging 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 6.0 assists per game in his rookie season of 2018-19. Doncic had better numbers than James in those categories when comparing their rookie campaigns, but James quickly improved his game and became one of the best players in NBA history.
The showdown between Luka Doncic and LeBron James
Earlier this season, the Mavericks’ second-year player went up against the Lakers’ veteran when the teams met in Dallas for the first time this season. The Lakers won the game, 119-110, and both players played well — each putting up a triple-double in the contest.
James scored 39 points, with 12 rebounds and 16 assists, while Doncic had 31 points, 13 boards, and 15 assists in the losing effort. It was the fifth game of the season for each team. The Lakers improved to 4-1 with the win, and the loss dropped the Mavs to 3-2. The teams next play each other Thanksgiving weekend, when the Mavs visit the Lakers that Sunday. They meet again two more times in January.
The record Luka Doncic set that LeBron can’t touch
A week after the loss to the Lakers, Doncic and the Mavs hosted the listless Knicks. Doncic had another triple-double that night, with 38 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists. That triple-double was, remarkably, his fourth in his first eight games of the season and his third in four games. It was also a notable triple-double for the 20-year-old because it was his third career triple-double with at least 30 points. That broke the NBA record for most 30-point triple-doubles before a player’s 21st birthday. The previous record-holder was James, who, at 34 years old, obviously can’t have any more triple-doubles before turning 21, which is why he can’t touch that record. Doncic, on the other hand, will continue to add to the record as he doesn’t turn 21 until the end of February. In fact, he added three more 30-point triple-doubles — including a 42-pointer — after setting the record.
Doncic’s triple-double in the Knicks game was also the 10th triple-double of his career in which he scored at least 20 points, breaking the Dallas franchise record that had been held by Hall of Famer Jason Kidd. When Doncic recorded his first 30-point triple-double in January, he became the first teenager in league history to accomplish the feat. If his first season-plus is any indication, expect to hear more about Luka Doncic setting records as he continues his NBA career.