Luka Doncic is not only the best 21-year-old player to ever compete in an NBA game, but maybe now he’s the best player in basketball.
In his second season, Doncic makes it look too easy, like Michael Jordan did. When Jordan was 25.
Doncic’s step-back 3-pointer at the overtime buzzer to beat the Clippers, 135-133, Sunday in Game 4 had Mike Breen howling on ABC to bust the bubble’s decibel meter.
It had his Dallas teammates scrambling to mob Doncic at center court. And it had Mavericks broadcaster Derek Harper proclaiming him the NBA’s best player.
After creating space against the Clippers’ Reggie Jackson off an inbounds with 3.4 seconds left, Doncic capped a 43-point, 17-rebound, 13-assist, 18-of-31 outing.
That’s really Fantasyland.
“I can’t explain the emotion,’’ the 6-foot-7 combo guard said on Zoom. “Not only the ball goes in, when I see the whole team run towards me, it was something special. One of the best feelings ever felt as a player.”
The “Bubble Shot” pulled the seventh-seeded Mavericks into a 2-2 tie with the Clippers — his greatness allowing Dallas to survive another missed game from Kristaps Porzingis, out with knee soreness.
Because of ABC’s exclusive rights for Sunday games, Harper, the ex-Knick, was not calling the game for Dallas’ FoxSports Southwest. Harper was at home, watching the Slovenian in awe with the rest of the country — and the world.
“This kid may be the best in the business now,’’ Harper told The Post. “He’s going to be an all-time great. There’s no question about it. As far as starting a team, put guys in a ring, I’d pick Luka first. I’d pick him over James Harden, Giannis [Antetokounmpo], Anthony Davis. LeBron’s been the best for a long time, but I’d pick him over everyone out there.”
If this spectacular performance signifies a changing-of-the-guard moment and final progression for Doncic, it couldn’t have happened at a more crucial time.
The NBA’s pandemic TV ratings have not been as potent as expected. Basketball fans are not used to sitting inside on a sun-splashed August Sunday late-afternoon. But this was worth forgoing the beach and barbecue.
“I’d pay money to watch him and I’m blessed to be calling these games for the Mavericks,’’ Harper said. “He makes it look like a walk in Central Park. He controls the game unlike anyone I’ve ever seen.’’
Jordan was 28 when he won his first of six titles. Harper, in the spring, predicted the Mavericks of Doncic and Porzingis will definitely win one title — if not two. Harper may have undersold it. “It’s going to happen sooner than later,’’ Harper said.
Indeed, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban will likely visit the White House even if he doesn’t one day become president. Cuban says Doncic can’t be compared.
“The key to Luka is that he not only wants to be one of the best, he is willing to do the work and willing to continue to learn,’’ Cuban stated in an email to The Post.
“He is always adding something to his game. He knows his only limit is how much he can learn and the work he puts in. He isn’t like any other player. He is a defining player setting his own path.’’
Harper points out that Doncic’s rising star at 21 is unprecedented, but perhaps should have been predicted.
Like Jordan, Doncic was not the No. 1 pick in the draft — taken third and acquired by Cuban in a draft-day trade.
He is mature beyond his years, Harper says, because Doncic turned pro in Europe at age 14. That only partly explains why, at 21, he’s turned the NBA on its ear.
“His usage rate is as high as anybody,” Harper said. “When you have the ball as much as he does, the next question is what kind of decisions he makes. He makes incredible decisions. But all year he struggled in crunch time. Now he’s taking it upon himself to finish the games out. That’s a sign of greatness, plain and simple. You can get 25 after three quarters, but he’s figured out how to take over in the fourth quarter.’’
Look out for ratings for Tuesday’s Game 5 as Kawhi Leonard’s Clippers are in bubble trouble.
“It will go down in some form as maybe the greatest game played by a second-year player,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said. “He sees the game in 6G, not 5G. This game was from another planet.”