By The Numbers
Not only has Doncic been the more consistent player, but his team was better than the Hawks were this season and Doncic was almost elected to the All Star Game.
I’m willing to accept the argument that Young might go on to have the better career, but if the argument is squarely who has been playing better in their rookie season, the answer is Doncic.
Doncic has posted an effective field goal percentage almost two full points better than Young this season on just 52 fewer shot attempts. To put that in context, they both will have over 1200 shot attempts by the end of the season.
Doncic has also shot the same percentage from beyond the arc this season as Young. Lately Young has been on fire though, so that will play into things a little. However, it’s about a full season of work, not just a hot month from beyond the arc. Still, Young’s stretch after the All Star Break has been impressive. He is averaging close to 25 points per game since the break and the Hawks have actually been competitive lately.
So, while you can compare their scoring, rebounding and assist numbers all you want, what really makes this Doncic’s award to lose has to be the big gap in advanced metrics. Doncic has turned the ball over less on a higher usage rate than Young this season and he has also posted 4.6 win shares at the time of writing this, compared to 2.9 for Young.
Young’s lack of defense is the only thing keeping him from catching Doncic in win shares this season, but that, too, is a factor that has to be taken into account in deciding who will win the award this year. When you further factor in metrics like win shares and VORP, Doncic is head and shoulders above Young in 2018-19.
The Basic Argument
When factoring in two outstanding players like Young and Doncic, you always seem to come across arguments such as Mr. Social Savant above. However, while his take is not wrong, it’s well beneath the level of thought needed from a true savant, so hopefully he read the above facts and listens to the following:
Basic stats don’t tell the whole story in the NBA. They never have and they never will. Points, rebounds and assists per game mean absolutely nothing without appropriate context like pace, usage rate, the quality of opponent and averaging everything out based on those numbers per 100 possessions.
What the above link goes to is a Basketball Reference breakdown comparison between Young and Doncic this season. If you look at the Per 100 Possessions and Advanced tables, you can clearly tell that if you evenly weigh all the factors needed before comparing these two outstanding rookies and their numbers, Doncic has been the better player this season.
Doncic has been more efficient and he shot just as well as Young from deep despite attempting a lot more three-pointers. Doncic has turned the ball over less despite being used for more of his team’s offense than Young, and Doncic is a far superior defender and rebounder.
Doncic is one of only three rookie’s in the one-and-done era to average at least 21 points per game. He joins Blake Griffin and Carmelo Anthony as the only players who have gotten those numbers this century.
I respect Young’s ability and I think his upside is just as good as Doncic over their respective careers. However, right now, Doncic is the Rookie of the Year.
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