For Luka Doncic, one of the best things about the NBA is that he finally has room to spread out.
Doncic averaged 14.5 points in the last of his four seasons for Real Madrid before entering the NBA draft in June. Since arriving in Dallas, though, he’s averaging 20.6 points and has seen an increase in his three-point shooting from 30.9 to 34.9 percent.
Doncic attributed the scoring boost to some of the rules that make the NBA game more offense-friendly, but also to the larger court in American basketball. The NBA uses courts that are 94 feet by 50 feet, or 4,700 square feet. European teams play on FIBA-regulation courts that are 91.86 feet by 49.21 feet or 4,520.43 square feet.
And those extra 180 square feet really makes a difference, Doncic said.
“Here [in the NBA] it’s easier to score compared to Europe, of course,” he said. “In Europe, the court is smaller, and here there is the [defensive] three seconds rule. I think it’s easier to score here.”
Doncic also is averaging 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists, which made him an unexpected All-Star Game snub. The 19-year-old is in the midst of a historic rookie season and could become the fifth first-year player to average 20 points, five rebounds and five assists. The others: Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Tyreke Evans. Doncic finished second in fan voting among Western Conference players, behind only James, but finished eighth in player voting and sixth in media voting.
“I wanted to go [to the All-Star Game], and I was very disappointed when they told me I wasn’t,” Doncic said. “What matters is the people who voted for me. I was impressed, and that’s what matters most to me. Maybe next year I’ll be there.”
But Doncic may be the exception, not the rule, when it comes to making the leap from Europe to the NBA. Marc Gasol scored 15.3 points per game his final season in Europe, but it took him seven years in the NBA to match that output. Nikola Jokic averaged 16.5 points and 9.7 rebounds in Europe, but in his first season stateside, he was at 10.0 and 7.0. (He’s up to 20.4 and 10.5 in his fourth season.)
Kristaps Porzingis, who joined Doncic in Dallas at the trade deadline, found his offensive game right away when he came to the NBA in 2015. In Europe, he averaged 11.0 points. But in his NBA rookie season, he scored 14.3 points per game with the New York Knicks and worked his way up to 22.7 last season before a knee injury ended his year.
Doncic is looking forward to putting his scoring talents alongside his fellow European.
“It’s something special what we’re going to have here with Porzingis,” Doncic said. “He is a great player, and we can do many good things. We already knew each other, we played many times against, and now, finally, we play together. We can do great things.”
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