Stephen Curry vs. Luka Doncic Comparison: Luka Is Not Yet At Steph's Level
Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic are considered two of the game's best offensive players of their generation. Their ability to get buckets in a variety of ways allowed them to dominate the game on every level and against any opponent they come up against. Curry and Doncic both have inside and outside games, along with other important attributes such as strong playmaking and floor leadership. While neither plays All-Star level defense, their impact on their teams is truly Hall of Fame status.
But which superstar player has the edge in an all-time comparison? Both Curry and Luka have achieved tremendous individual success and also team success when considering Steph won championships and Doncic is building a championship squad as he is only 23 years old. But championships aside, which player has the edge in important player attributes on both ends of the floor? Of course, career success will come into play but so will other factors. Let’s take a look at the full-player comparison between Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic.
Stephen Curry averages 24.3 PPG on 47.3% shooting from the field, including 42.8% from three. Curry shoots 90.8% from the free-throw line over his career with the Warriors, and he certainly gets there a lot. Curry had an amazing ability to beat his defender off the dribble and gets his buckets at the rim when he isn’t nailing shots. But obviously, Curry is the best shooter ever and mainly scores from the perimeter.
Luka Doncic is averaging 26.4 PPG during his career, by shooting 45.7% from the field and 33.7% from three. His free throw percentage is slightly under par at 73.7%, however. Doncic does look unstoppable on offense and often needs two or three defenders to slow him down when he is in his groove. Luka can finish at the rack, often using his strength to absorb contact from defenders.
Overall, it can be hard to distinguish between Curry and Doncic since the point guard has higher shooting percentages. But Luka is a better all-around scorer because he is a much bigger player and can use his size to score down low anytime he wants and can also shoot over defenders. Luka also has an impressive 26.4 PPG career average which is higher than Steph’s.
No doubt, Stephen Curry is the better shooter. The eye test says so and the numbers prove it. Steph is averaging 42.8% from three and is the player who completely changed the game with the way he takes deep-range shots. Curry has shown the ability to make outside shots from any distance, and he can singlehandedly destroy defenses when he gets going from a distance. Of course, he is an all-time great free-throw shooter with an average of 90.8%.
Luka is an improving shooter and can certainly stroke the ball when he is in a rhythm, but he is more of a streaky shooter who needs to take shots at a higher volume to be effective. Maybe one day Luka can get close to shooting 40% from three, but he is not the marksman that Steph is and that is obvious from the numbers and also from watching Dallas Mavericks games. Curry gains the edge with ease as he does with any other player.
Stephen Curry is an underrated passer and playmaker because he holds a career average of 6.5 APG and has a career-high average of 8.5 APG in the 2014 NBA season. Steph is a score-first point guard and a player who loves to take outside shots, but he can be a capable playmaker when he truly wants to. No doubt, Steph is an excellent passer and deserves more credit for being a floor general.
But he is not the passer that Luka Doncic is. Doncic is becoming one of the best floor generals in the modern generation because he has the size to look over smaller guards and also the natural ability to make others better. Coming into the NBA, Luka was immediately a tremendous passer and his scoring ability came later. The Slovenian has a career average of 8.0 APG with a high of 8.8 APG in the 2020 NBA season.
Both Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic are considered two of the game's greatest offensive players. That is why their defensive games are often overlooked, and to be honest, it is for good reason.
Stephen Curry was never much of a defender and will never play above an average level of defense. With the Warriors over his career, he has been all about offense and he has still been arguably a top-5 player in the game despite his average defense. Curry has averages of 1.7 SPG and 0.2 BPG during his career. Even when Curry is not a lockdown defender, he can focus on that end sometimes and is clearly great at playing passing lanes.
Luka Doncic is also a sensational scorer, and his defense has not caught up just yet. Although not a stopper every night, Doncic at least has the size to be a factor at contesting shots. But his stats are not as good as Curry’s, because he has averages of 1.1 SPG and 0.4 BPG. Doncic is not adept at playing passing lanes as well as Luka and has not had many moments of actually playing strong defense. Curry is not a great defender, but he has at least some moments where he plays defense in important moments.
Stephen Curry is not a tremendous athlete by any means, as he only stands 6’2” and weighs 185 lbs. He is built rather thin and does not have natural strength or aggression to make up for his miniature size. But one aspect of his athleticism goes unnoticed, his speed. Steph is incredibly quick and agile and can get anywhere on the court anytime he wants. Curry is one of the fastest players with the ball and is capable of running off screens endlessly without losing fatigue. In terms of speed and stamina, Steph is truly an impressive offensive player and consistent performer.
Luka is not a great athlete, but he stands tall at 6’7” and 230 lbs. Doncic is packing a few extra pounds and only one can wonder about the next level he can reach if he gets into superstar shape. Luka is dominating the game despite being overweight, as he uses his size to get the looks he wants. But neither star is a tremendous athlete, although Curry gains the edge because his quickness and stamina are to be respected.
Both Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic are very capable players in the clutch. Due to their scoring ability, either player is a perfect fit for taking the last shot of an important game even as they aged. But the edge has to go slightly to Stephen Curry. Stephen Curry is one of the most clutch players when he has a good look from the perimeter, although he tends to come through in crunch time when he plays off of ball movement and ball-sharing. Steph has had his moments when his clutch ability has been criticized, but he is still a scary figure when he has a shot to take.
Meanwhile, Luka’s size always gives him an advantage on offense, and he has a highlight reel-worthy amount of punishing defenders around the court. In the clutch, Doncic is improving and also has a tendency to make the right plays by scoring or passing. But at age 23, Luka is not as good as Curry when it comes to making big plays although he might get there one day. Overall, Curry’s experience comes into play because he is a more consistent clutch performer from what we have seen so far.
Both Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic lead by example on the court, and each is currently the best player on their teams. But Stephen Curry has to take the edge over Luka Doncic because Curry has shown tremendous leadership during his time with the Golden State Warriors. Four championships, two MVP awards, and a Finals MVP award have to show for his leadership. Not to mention, Curry is extremely unselfish and his unselfishness in bringing other stars to play with him has to count towards his leadership ability.
Luka Doncic is the franchise cornerstone for the Dallas Mavericks and has been thrust into a leadership role early into his career. The Slovenian is adept at creating for others or scoring the ball and has done a great job handling the pressure from NBA fans and media so far. Even as a foreign player, Doncic has managed spectacularly well in the NBA. But Doncic is not the leader that Steph is, because he has a lot more to accomplish before he becomes a veteran.
When it comes to basketball I.Q., Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic are probably 2 of the best in their generation when it comes to the offensive end of the floor. Stephen Curry is a genius on offense and is a terrific playmaker as well. The point guard can affect a game single-handedly and he often used his exceptional offensive awareness to lead the game in scoring. Steph also hardly takes bad shots other than the “heat check” shots that he is always allowed to take because of his deep-range prowess.
Similarly, Luka Doncic is a sensational offensive player and also an All-Star playmaker. He can get buckets for his teams when needed and also create scoring opportunities for others. But it does not stop there for the Slovenian. He is a tremendous rebounder, with a career average of 8.5 RPG, and just finished the 2022 season with an average of 9.1 RPG. As a triple-double threat, Doncic is more talented than Steph and that comes down to all-around basketball IQ.
Looking ahead to impact on a basketball game, again this one is too close to call but one player has the minor edge due to the evidence of championship success and performing at the biggest moments. Stephen Curry and Luka Doncic impact the game at an MVP level offensively although Luka has key attributes such as rebounding. They are both capable in the clutch and also the undisputed leaders on their teams.
But Curry has more of an impact than Luka because he changed the game due to his unstoppable shooting ability. Steph can destroy teams in just a few possessions and has to gain the edge in impact. Doncic does more than Steph on the court, but Curry’s shooting is undeniably great - especially in the modern NBA game. Overall, Curry is more responsible for wins than Luka is and deserves the edge here.
Stephen Curry is unstoppable in one-on-one situations, as he possesses some of the best ball-handling abilities we have ever seen. What he allows on defense isn't close to what he brings to the table on offense, and he strikes fear into opposing coaches' hearts whenever he has the ball past half-court. Steph can make outside shots with ease as soon as he has a foot inside half-court, and often needs to be double-teamed to stop him from stepping back and letting off quick-fire jumpers.
Luka Doncic is also an unstoppable force on offense, and he can not be handled with only one or two defenders. He is too strong, large, and too deadly from anywhere on the court. Doncic is great at backing down his defender, using step-back shots, and even fooling defenders with jab steps and crossovers. Doncic is very talented with the ball in his hands and his ability to get easy shots down low against almost any defender gives him a slight edge over Steph in one-on-one situations.
Stephen Curry made 8 All-Star Teams, 8 All-NBA Teams, and won the scoring title on two occasions. Curry has also won 4 NBA championships and has had a sensational record of making the playoffs and kickstarting the new era in the NBA. Steph has also won the MVP award on two occasions, captured a Finals MVP award, an All-Star Game MVP award, and even led the NBA in steals in 2016. Perhaps other than LeBron James, no player has had a better career than Curry right now among active players.
Luka Doncic has had an unbelievable start to his career, making 3 All-Star Teams and 3 All-NBA Teams. After capturing the Rookie of the Year award in 2019 and making the All-Rookie Team, the Slovenian has blossomed into a multiple-time All-Star and All-NBA performer. Doncic is very capable of leading the Mavericks to victory on any given night, and he is building what could be the start of a Hall of Fame career.
Overall, there is a clear winner when it comes to a career comparison. Curry is a more accomplished player so far, owning a host of individual and team accolades that Luka does not have right now. The Slovenian has only played for 4 seasons so far and has plenty of time to gain more All-Star and All-NBA Team appearances than Steph although the MVP and championship awards could be difficult to accomplish.
The comparison between these 2 superstars is very close. Stephen Curry is a better shooter with an incredible career resume, while Luka Doncic is a better playmaker and rebounder. Even right now, Curry and Doncic are bonafide All-Stars and MVP candidates in the NBA right now and as a result, their abilities as superstars players make them close to each other. But in the end, Curry has the edge over Doncic.
What ultimately separates them is the number of accolades and team success that Stephen Curry achieved over his incredible career. Not to mention, Curry has changed the NBA forever with the way he brought a skill-first approach to dominating the league over raw physicality and athleticism. To be fair, Luka Doncic has accumulated a lot in a very short amount of time and he is arguably a top-5 talent in the world right now due to his ability. But his career is far too short when compared to the point guard’s and he cannot match what Stephen Curry brought to the game of basketball so far. As a result, Stephen Curry edges Luka Doncic as the greater all-time player.