The Dallas Mavericks have traded for the rights to Luka Doncic in the 2018 NBA draft. The selection originally belonged to the Atlanta Hawks with the No. 3 pick.
There has never been a more decorated or accomplished international prospect this young. At 19 years old, Doncic was named MVP of both EuroLeague and its Final Four, which came after he helped Slovenia win gold at EuroBasket last summer. His style of play is also unique and fueled by versatility valued in today's NBA.
Weight: 228 pounds
Reach: 8'9 ½"
Pro-player comparison: Brandon Roy/Manu Ginobili
With forward size, Doncic often runs the point for his ability to handle the ball and run pick-and-rolls. He has sensational passing instincts and vision. His 31.3 assist percentage is higher than most first-round NCAA point guards. Doncic is also crafty off the dribble in changing speed and direction and using improvisation off runners, floaters and layups to score. And though his one-on-one creation needs work, he's shown he can separate into pull-ups and step-backs. In 66 total games during 2017-18, Doncic has converted 101 three-pointers.
Doncic lacks explosiveness for a guard or wing. He isn't a blow-by driver, which forces him to rely on lower-percentage shots away from the basket in isolation situations. It also causes him to over-dribble while teammates stand around. Though a routine threat from three, he's inconsistent, as he only made 31.7 percent of his total attempts from behind the arc. He's also more comfortable on the ball than without it, but he lacks the traditional speed of an NBA point guard.
Doncic's defense is the biggest concern when projecting him to the NBA. Lateral foot speed is a weakness. He will have trouble defending opposing point guards, and bigger opponents back him down in the post. However, he is a fierce competitor, which can help compensate when guarding the ball. Off the ball, he shows solid awareness and the potential to be a fine team defender.
Having won MVP in the toughest league outside the NBA, Doncic is as prepared as any prospect for his rookie season. Even at EuroBasket, we saw him take it to quality NBA veterans. Doncic won't average the most points in his class, but he should be capable of filling up box scores, playing full-time minutes and making routine plays in key moments. He'll start from day one and be a regular contributor.
Projected role: All-Star
Players like Manu Ginobili, Goran Dragic and Paul Pierce have proved that explosive athleticism isn't essential for ball-handlers or wings to reach All-Star heights. Doncic may never lead the league in scoring, but he'll check every offensive box and still be more of an impact-over-stats combo guard or forward. Doncic has the chance to be special, but even if he never blows up, no prospect in the draft has a higher floor.