At only 19 years old, Luka Doncic is already a star in the Euroleague. One of the top prospects of the 2018 class, what can Doncic do for an NBA team and where should he want to land?
Weight: 228 ibs.
Position: Point Guard/Shooting Guard
From: Slovenia/Real Madrid
Class: Would be Freshman
Hometown: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Despite little spotlight in the U.S. and distance from NBA scouts, Luka Doncic has made a name for himself overseas and is now preparing to be a top 3 pick in the 2018 NBA draft. Doncic, who should be the first guard off the board, if not the first player, was born in Slovenia and has become a top player on Real Madrid’s squad in Spain. With Madrid, he’s putting up around 15 points a game and has been a fantastic facilitator for the team, learning from veteran guard Sergio Llull. At 6’8″, the Slovenian can play either guard position but will likely play whichever position is at more of a need for the team that drafts him right out the gate. I see him being able to excel more as a point guard as he plays as a primary ball-handler most of the time and has impressive vision for his size. While he has incredible intangibles and an uncanny feel for the game, Doncic comes up short in the athleticism column, not being quick and explosive enough as an average NBA guard. He’ll likely have trouble driving to the rim on defenses early in his career. On top of this issue, he isn’t a good defender by any means. Like many top players in this draft, defensive energy is hard to come by for these talented players that are used to having the ball in their hands and only expending effort on offense. Developing a better long range jumper, getting more attentive on defense, and using his craftiness to drive inside will be key to Doncic becoming the star he has the potential to become.
Considering his strengths and weaknesses, Doncic has a striking resemblance with 76ers rookie star Ben Simmons. While Doncic probably has the slightly better jumper at the moment, neither are good shooters from the outside nor are they very focused on the defensive end, but both are talented floor generals who play point guard at an unusually tall height. Simmons is stronger and more polished than Doncic but both may see their rise in the NBA at near the same time if the Real Madrid guard turns into what he’s expected to be. Both these players may begin a revolution at the point guard position, shifting the league from looking for quick shooters at the position to big, pass-first players who can run to the team and make every teammate on the court better.
Best Team Fit:
The Knicks should trade up for a top 3 pick using anybody but KP to grab Doncic. A combination of the two former Euroleague players would be deadly for the future. Both have large size for their respective positions and have the potential to each be Hall of Famers. The Knicks have been looking for a point guard, taking Frank Nitilikina in last years draft and signing Trey Burke late this season. While Nitilikina has defensive potential and Burke has been hot lately, New York can’t pass up this opportunity to use a few picks and a young player to get a talent like Doncic. If the team is able to hang onto Tim Hardaway Jr. in the trade and resign Enes Kanter in the offseason, there’ll be plenty of options for their new rookie to look to when facilitating on offense. Taking another shot on a high potential Euro player is the right move for New York this year.