Luca Doncic – Slovenia
CPP Big Board Ranking: #4 Overall (#1 PG/#1 SG)
Weight: 225 lbs
Age/Birthday: 19 (2/28/99)
Hometown: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Team: Real Madrid
(Brett Siegel – 5/1/18)
Aside from being the best international prospect in this year’s upcoming draft, Luka Doncic is also the best available wing player in the draft class. Standing 6’8” and the ability to bring the ball up the court, Doncic can basically play anywhere on the court without matchup problems. He has also improve his post-up game with Real Madrid this past season, making him a threat from anywhere on the court.
Being born into a family that cherished basketball, Luka was exposed the the game from the day he could walk. His father, Sasa Doncic was a former basketball player and coach in the Serbian League and was the one to really push Luka at a very young age. At a young age, Luka Doncic saw himself playing with kids 3-4 year older than him and ultimately, representing his country in U-11 and U-14 championships. At 13-years of age, Doncic signed his first professional contract with Real Madrid and has played there since. In 2017, he was named the Euroleague Rising Star and the Spanish League BeYoung Player. He is a 2x Spanish League Champion with Real Madrid and at just 19 years of age, he is just getting started.
Unlike many international prospects who get drafted, Luka Doncic will not be much of a project and is ready to see the court immediately in his rookie season. There are not many players his age coming overseas to the NBA and ready to step onto the court for their new team, making him a very intriguing prospect who is in conversation to go #1 overall in this year’s draft. Expect to see Luka Doncic taken in the Top 5 of this year’s NBA Draft.
The three biggest strengths of Luka Doncic’s game are his natural scoring abilities, his ability to create opportunities for himself and his teammates, and his maturity and patience for a young player. Although he may not be the best shooter in the draft class, Luka Doncic excels in the mid-range. His step-back shot could use some work, as his mechanics are a little lackluster, but he is not afraid to pull up off the dribble. In his few years with Real Madrid, Doncic has shown the ability to shoot the long-ball. His percentages over the past few years have decreased slightly, but that is the result of taking more shots due to more time on the court over the years. In 168 games dating abck to 2014, Doncic shoots an average of 33% from 3-point range, but when accounting for his minutes changing and taking more shots, he is around a 35-36% shooter. For a 19 year old prospect, Doncic reads defenses really well, which helps him drastically in the pick-and-roll game. Doncic is a “two-way” player when it comes to the pick-and-roll, meaning he is very good at both passing and scoring off of it. He looks very comfortable taking floaters and finishing at the rim when given the opportunity.
As for finding his teammates and creating opportunity, Doncic is very reliable. He will gain the confidence of his future NBA team and coach very quickly in his NBA career and will be leaned upon to turn broken players into something at the offensive end. In his professional career, Doncic has averaged under 2 turnovers per game and just slightly under 4 assists per game. Overall, his court vision and passing abilities are ahead of schedule in terms of development for a young, international prospect. Although he tend to play a wing-position for Real Madrid, Doncic will likely split time as a combo-guard in the NBA as a result of his abilities and frame. The only adjustment he will have to make at the NBA level from this perspective is getting used to constantly being the facilitator on offense as a point guard, unless teams trust him enough to let him be a natural scoring point guard.
Luka Doncic is also a very composed and relaxed player, which can be surprising to some NBA executives since he is only 19 years old and an international prospect. Usually, with overseas players, NBA franchises take time to let prospects develop and teach them the game more, but with Doncic, there is not much more that needs to be taught/developed. He is ready to come in and help change a franchise now, which is why he is sought so highly of NBA personnel. His versatility and potential has lots of NBA persona intrigued and make them hopeful that he will be a star of the future for them.
Luka Doncic does not have weaknesses, but more-or-less bad tendencies, likely from how the game is played in the EuroLeague. One of these tendencies is his defensive approach and ability. Although he is not a terrible defender, averaging close to a steal per game, his approach and ability to close out shots is below average for a player of his height. Doncic has never shown the ability to be a shot-blocker guarding other wing-players and tends to get beat on pick-and-roll situations. One yellow flag in his defensive approach is his lateral quickness. Just watching film on Doncic, it is clear to see he does not move very well side-to-side and, as a result, will see lots of pick-and-rolls from opponents in the NBA. He really does not look comfortable when getting back-down either. Doncic looks very small and soft compared to his opponents, even if they are the same size, when he is defending the post. He tends to be most comfortable defending one of the wings, where he does not necessarily have to move side-to-side, compared to being up top or in the post.
Another tendency that Doncic has is that he tends to try and do too much at the offensive end, leading to forced shots and missed opportunities. Although this is likely a result of Doncic being one of Real Madrid’s best players and them putting the ball in his hands, it is still something to keep an eye on as Doncic continues his career into the NBA. At the next level, Doncic must be able to find his teammates and alleviate pressure off of himself. He has the chance to be a franchise changing talent, but he must make everyone else around him better as a result of his offensive abilities and passing abilities. Doncic is too talented to make common mistakes like these and must adjust to the NBA mindset to be successful as a young NBA talent.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: A bigger Manu Ginobili, but a smaller Hedo Turkoglu
Lots of people say Luka Doncic is very similar to Manu Ginobili, while others shoot that comparison down and say Hedo Turkoglu. Well, believe it or not, he is sort of a blend between the two. No, Luka is not as good of a shooter yet as Manu Ginobili was coming into the NBA, and definitely is not as strong and big as Hedo Turkoglu was. But, he exhibits a lot of tendencies offensively that are very similar to a young Manu Ginobili and Hedo Turkoglu. As time went on in Manu Ginobili’s career, he became a very complete player for the Spurs. At the peak of his career, Hedo Turkoglu was seen as a very prolific offensive player. As he develops at the next level, Luka Doncic is expected to improve offensively and develop like Ginobili and Turkoglu did as international prospects.
Overall, Luka Doncic’s career outlook is based solely on how high he wants his ceiling to be. He has the potential to be one of the best international prospects in NBA history and if drafted by the right team, could turn into a scary offensive player in the NBA. Nonetheless, expect to see Luka Doncic selected somewhere in the Top 5 of the 2018 NBA Draft.
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