Who is Luka Dončić?
Much of the smart money for the 2018 NBA Draft has Deandre Ayton going first due to the Suns’ needs despite the fact that Luka Dončić is easily the most talented overall player coming out this year. In fact, with the Kings and Hawks also needing big men, there’s a chance that the 6’8″ guard could even drop out of the top three. Still, Dončić has an incredibly impressive resume already, made all the more impressive by the faxt that dude is only 19 years old.
Don’t let his young age fool you, however. Dončić has dominated in Europe for three years already, and he’s gotten so many awards that the hardest thing about relocating to the United States may well be figuring out how to pack them all. But since the Slovenia superstar has spent his career in Europe so far, many Americans may be unfamiliar with him. Here’s what you should know about Luka Dončić before he comes to your town and shows the old men how it’s done.
Having begun his career at the age of 16 years, 2 months, and 2 days, he was the youngest player to ever play for Real Madrid in the Liga ACB when he debuted for the 2015-16 season. In addition, his play in the EuroLeague earned him recognition, and he set awards for young players in virtually every category in both. But perhaps the most impressive was last year’s Eurobasket, in which he gave his native Slovenia a boost to win their first ever title, getting named to the All Tournament Team in the process.
Dončić’s biggest assets are his hands, his ability to field nearly any pass and maintain ball control under even the most adverse conditions. In addition, his height would put him among the tallest guards in the league, if not the tallest. But what he has in hands and ball control he seems to lack in speed and quickness, having played with slow Europeans instead of speedy Americans all of his career. Jokes aside, Dončić’s age means that he has plenty of time to adapt, and his youth will certainly give him plenty of time to adapt. His instincts are also fantastic, and his versatility will make him a solid addition to any team.
With a list of awards a mile long, Dončić’s resume is as long as we’ve seen in the draft. With Real Madrid, he was a EuroLeague champion, a two time Spanish King’s Cup winner at Copa Del Rey and Liga ACB champ, and a FIBA International Cup Champ. But basketball is a game of superstars, and the individual awards are even more important when talking about a draft prospect. The 2017-18 EuroLeague MVP, Dončić was also the Final Four MVP and on the All EuroLeague First Team the same season. He was previously named the Spanish League’s Best Young Player, twice getting named to the All Young Players Team, and he was a two time EuroLeague Rising Star. He also won countless awards with the youth leagues as well.
(Cropped image courtesy of Eric Wong via Flickr.)