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Triple-double demon: Luka Doncic off to a historic start in his second NBA season

Luka Doncic

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Don’t apologize for assuming that if an NBA record was going to set this season that someone like Kawhi Leonard, LeBron James, James Harden or Kemba Walker would do it.

Frankly, unless you happen to live there, how much attention do you pay to the Dallas Mavericks, unless owner Mark Cuban is ripping the officials again.

Well, it seems as if we’ll have to change our viewing habits because one the most exciting new stars in the league is the Mavs’ Luka Doncic, its reigning rookie of the year. We say that because he did something this week no one had ever done in NBA history. And that’s a lot of history.

On Wednesday night in Dallas, Doncic put up 35 points, 10 rebounds an 11 assists in a much-to-easy romp over the Golden State Warriors. And he did it in just 25:30 – the least playing time ever by a player to register a 30-point triple-double.

While that seems pretty cool, consider this: In Monday’s home win over the slumping San Antonio Spurs, Doncic went for a 42-point triple-double. By doing that, the joined King James as the only players in history to score 40 in a triple-double before their 21st birthday.

“Unbelievable. But we were talking about if he can keep this up, and I was like, ‘Yo, if somebody can keep this up, it’s him,'” Mavs guard J.J. Barea said. “He plays on the ground. He’s super smart. He’s shooting the ball well. He’s finishing really well. I see him keeping it up.

“It’s not hard for him to do this right now. He’s not forcing crazy s—. It’s just coming. That’s why I think he can keep this up. He’s making it look easy.”

So there you have it. Make room on the marquee for Luka Doncic.

“Look, he’s a very special player on a special roll,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said after the Warriors win. “There’s not much else to say. This isn’t a big news flash now. This is getting to be pretty normal.”

Carlisle is right. Doncic, who averaged 21.2 points as a rookie, has seven triple-doubles in the first 14 games. And that’s the most over the same period of time since Oscar Robertson put up 11 in 1961-62. The record book tells Robertson had been the youngest player with consecutive 35-point triple-doubles. Not anymore. Doncic won’t even be 21 until February.

As of Friday, Doncic is averaging 29.9 points, 10.6 rebounds and 9.4 assists. He is the only league player to rank top five in scoring and assists and the only one to rank top 15 in all three categories.

“I’m glad we’re winning games. That’s all,”  Doncic said.

Luka Doncic

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

There’s more: Against the Warriors, Doncic scored 22 points with five rebounds and five assists in the first quarter, one which ended with the Mavs ahead by 28 points.

“Appreciate, yes. Respect, yes. Enjoy, definitely not,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Right from the beginning of the game, he was doing his thing – knocking down 3s, drawing fouls and he took it to us.”

According to Elias Sports Bureau, Doncic is the first player to have more points, rebounds and assists than an opposing team in one quarter since Allen Iverson did it with the Sixers in 2003. Doncic had 33 points by halftime, the second-most in the history of the franchise.

Dallas acquired his draft rights after Atlanta selected him with the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. The Mavs traded the rights to Trae Young, who they had selected fifth. By the time he came to the NBA, he was already an international sensation, the reigning MVP of the Euroleague regular season, Euroleague Final Four and ACB regular season. That’s where he picked up his nickname – Wonder Boy.

“Luka is getting compared to all-time greats and it’s nice, but he’s 20 years old,” Mavs’ GM Donnie Nelson said on ESPN Radio. “He’s just starting his career out. He’s got a long, long way to go, and we’ve had a soft early schedule. So I’m not going to be jumping on this all-time great this, that and the other. He’s got the potential … yes … but he’s got to win at the highest level.”