My good friend that has engaged with me in draft talk for the last 10 years, Jared Katz, wrote a guest feature for MavsDraft on potential Maverick Luka Doncic:
Name: Luka Doncic
Statline: 14.5 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.4 BPG, 2.2 TOPG, 1.6 FPG on 45.6/30.9/80.1 splits
Wingspan/Standing Reach: N/A
College/Country: Real Madrid, Spain
Tools: Vision, Passing, Fundamentals
- Most polished draft eligible player in years
- Prodigious court vision, knows where everyone on the court is at any given time
- Excellent pick and roll ball handler – makes the correct decision nine times out of ten
- Best passer in the draft; able to make difficult passes look easy thanks to his height, touch, and vision
- Unselfish player who is willing to make the extra pass
- Great shooting mechanics with legit NBA range
- Comfortable shooting on the move, off the catch, or off the dribble
- Combination of quick first step and crafty ball handling allows him to beat defenders and get to his spot
- Able to create space with a Harden-like step back move
- Very dangerous once he knifes his way to the middle of the floor, where he can kick the ball out to an open shooter, dish it to a diving big man, or knock down an easy floater
- Can score in a variety of ways – looks comfortable working in the post, driving, or shooting
- Projects to be an average team defender; rotates quickly, high defensive IQ
- Great rebounder for a wing; able to lead the break after he grabs the rebound
- Has a swagger and level of confidence that is contagious
- Wants to have the ball in his hands in big moments; killer instinct and an intense, fiery competitor
- Dominated older, better competition at 18 and 19 years old
- Average athlete at best
- Poor on ball defender – can’t stay in front of quicker guards and gets bullied by bigger opponents
- Lacks lateral quickness and vertical explosiveness to go along with his quick first step
- Might have trouble finishing at the basket at the NBA level because of his lack of vertical explosiveness
- Despite great shooting mechanics, he only shot 30.1% from three this year, although he shot 34.7% the year before
- Flashy player, which sometimes leads to untimely turnovers
- Sometimes too confident in his passing ability; tries to make some plays he shouldn’t make
- Looks lackadaisical defensively from time to time; doesn’t get in a defensive stance, doesn’t always close out
- Good ball handler, but sometimes lets his handle get too loose, leading to turnovers
Doncic has been on draft radars since he was 16, and he hasn’t disappointed evaluators. Despite playing against older, highly skilled players in the EuroLeague, Doncic has held his own, and even won MVP this year as a 19 year old. Skeptics will question how his skills will translate to the NBA level due to the relative lack of success of high European draft picks, but Doncic’s accomplishments are unprecedented. Offensively, Doncic is a franchise-altering piece who will make everybody around him better. His basketball IQ is among the best in the world, and he has the skills package to go with it. Doncic’s ability as a passer not only opens up his teammates, but it opens up his own ability to score as well. While he lacks the explosiveness to routinely get to the basket and finish at will, he combines a quick first step with yo-yo like ball handling to create space for his jumper. He can be overly reliant on his jump shot, but once defenders start to close the space, he has enough quickness to start beating defenders driving to the basket.
However, Teams will have to live with his defensive shortcomings. He projects as an average team defender thanks to his length and IQ, but he’ll never be more than a below average on ball defender at the next level. He will probably have to stick to guarding 2’s, 3’s, and small ball 4’s. Lead ball handlers will toast him at the next level, and I envision NBA teams testing him early and often by forcing him to switch onto bad matchups off screens.
Having said all of that, I believe Doncic is one of the two best players in this draft. Both Doncic and DeAndre Ayton, who Richard profiled here, are franchise-changing players for the teams fortunate enough to draft them. I feel bad for the team that over thinks Doncic and passes on him. While he may never be a 20-point per game player, his ability to impact the game on the offensive side of the floor cannot be understated.
NBA Comparison: Manu Ginobili, Brandon Roy
Projected Draft Range: Top 5
Fit with the Mavericks: Doncic has a place on any NBA roster due to his versatile skillset. The Mavs already have their lead ball handler in Dennis Smith Jr. But in today’s NBA, it is necessary to have multiple facilitators. Enter Doncic, who at 6’8 would bring some much-needed size to the Dallas backcourt. Doncic can function as a secondary ball handler, he can run off screens for catch and shoot opportunities, or he can run the pick and roll with an efficient big man like Dwight Powell and three other shooters like Doug McDermott, Seth Curry, and Dirk. Pairing Doncic’s skill set with Rick Carlisle’s offensive creativity is a recipe for very, very fun basketball in Dallas. The Mavericks just need to hope that Sacramento, Atlanta, and Memphis let him slide to five.
Be sure to follow Jared @Jared_Katz30 on Twitter for more info!