Weight: 220 lbs.
Wingspan: 7-0 (no official measurements)
Birthday/Age: 2/28/99 (19 years old)
Projected NBA Role: Point Forward
Hometown: Madrid, Spain (born in Slovenia)
Team: Real Madrid
Strengths: Passing, IQ, Scoring, Pick & Roll, Size, Strength, Confidence
Weaknesses: Explosiveness, Speed, Defense
Upper Bound: Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Drazen Petrovic
Lower Bound: Mike Miller, Penny Hardaway (with a better jumper but less athleticism)
Thoughts and Comparisons
I’ll keep this short. But if you want to hear me wax poetic on Luka, please click here. Simply put, Luka is in a tier of his own amongst this draft class and is arguably the most accomplished prospect to enter the NBA Draft in decades. It is natural to drift into hyperbole when a 20-year-old kid can name these awards in his trophy cabinet: Euroleague Champion, Euroleague Final Four MVP, Euroleague MVP, Eurobasket Champion, Eurobasket All-Tournament Team. The 6-8, 220-lb. point-forward still has a lot of room for improvement with his body too, which is a good thing. He’s been running up and down the court for 24 months straight. All that cardio has kept him lean and fit, but his frame is naturally big-boned and filling it out with muscle will pay dividends if NBA teams try to put him on power-forwards defensively, like how Brett Brown and Lloyd Pierce used Ben Simmons this year. If Doncic can improve his strength, lateral movement, and explosiveness on his first step, I’m not really sure what his weaknesses would be.
As a 20-year-old he already has the IQ and instincts to make his teammates better, the passing to be an elite point guard, the size to shoot over any guard, the range to stroke it from deep with nifty ball-handling and step back moves, and the creativity to finish in the paint without necessarily posterizing bigs. This makes him one of the most prepared players to succeed as a rookie in the NBA since perhaps Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, or LeBron James. The floor for his career has to be a player who never had elite athleticism to blow past defenders or lock down on defense but won rookie of the year and sustained a long career with efficient scoring and play-making: Mike Miller.
Where it gets scary is if Luka continues to develop at the pace that he has shown over the past 24 months. Growing another inch while putting on 20+lbs. of muscle is not out of the question. Now we are talking about a 6-9, 250-lb. point-guard with natural basketball instincts. Magic was never an explosive athlete but he always got to his spots. Luka has delivered similarly against the less-athletic competition in Europe. Will it translate to the NBA? Not immediately, but I wouldn’t bet against him improving his first step and using his size and wits to take advantage of defensive lapses. He already directs defenders with his eyes, looks off the help defender and finds teammates for wide open looks. Now add his shooting stroke and range to that body and you have a little bit of Bird with some of the frame of Magic. Lest I forget to mention when Luka is on fire from the perimeter his swagger is reminiscent of a one Wardell Stephen Curry. Doesn’t that make Luka a taller Jerry West? After his past season it should only be a matter of time before they make the Euroleague logo a silhouette of Doncic.
Ideal Landing Spots
Regardless of current roster composition, you better make a spot available for Luka’s talent if you are an NBA team. In the context of the top lottery teams this year, the Suns, the Knicks, and the Magic are obvious landing spots for a versatile play-making point guard. I really like the idea of a Doncic-Booker backcourt. Luka’s IQ will be key at getting Booker easy buckets, and they can play off of each other – if the defense focuses on one, the other can go off. The Knicks would be an ideal landing spot for such a precocious talent, handing him the keys to the Mecca of basketball at MSG with Ntilikina being a perfect defensive complement to Luka’s offensive skill-set. I bet Luka and his management would love for him to shine bright under the lights in the Big Apple. The Magic have a more serious need at point guard than perhaps any other team in the league, but let’s be honest: neither the Knicks or Magic have the pieces to move up from six or nine to snag Doncic.
Realistically, Doncic is the no-brainer top selection in the draft. And with Igor Kokoskov as the Suns’ new head coach, they might as well reserve Luka’s parking spot. Kokoskov had great success working with him over the summer and taking Slovenia to the European Championship. They already have a strong relationship, and Doncic fits the bill as both the best player available and a best fit with Booker and Jackson. The Suns may still need to find their franchise center and many believe Ayton is the selection if they go that route. I just can’t see them passing on Doncic. Any team that passes on him will have to face his wrath at least a couple of times a season. Luka Doncic is more fun when he’s playing for your team, so good luck with that!