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2018 NBA Draft Profile: Luka Doncic

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Luka Doncic

6-8, 225 lbs.

Born: Feb. 28, 1999

Slovenia

There’s been plenty of hype around the Slovenian teenager, especially after he earned EuroLeague Final Four MVP honors. How does his game translate to the NBA?

STRENGTHS: At 6-8, 225, and with terrific court vision and passing acumen, this kid has the potential to be an All-Star caliber backcourt player. It just may take a little while before he gets there.

Doncic averaged 16 points, 9.5 assists, and 4.8 boards in the EuroLeague as a 19-year-old this past season, and won the league’s Final Four MVP award after leading his team on a stirring run to the title. How big of an accomplishment is this? Here’s a list of the other Final Four MVP’s, for reference. (It’s a mixed bag).

The teenager put up 16 points, 7 boards and 2 assists in the semifinals, and 15, 4 assists and 3 boards in the final game.

Doncic is best known for his ability to facilitate for others, but he also has the ability to score in a variety of ways. He’s got plenty of range on his jumper (though he shot just 32.9% from 3, see below), has a terrific midrange game, and can get to the bucket with ease.

At times, he looks like a homeless man’s James Harden–with that same, set-up dribble, lull-you-to-sleep and attack the rim game. He’s also got a James Harden step-back, though none of those skills are as refined as Harden’s. It’s like comparing McDonald’s beef (even the new Quarter Pounders) to filet mignon.

He’s also got a raw post game complete with some moves he’s used to son smaller players in the post, which could develop into something reliable. It’s not going to work right away in the NBA, unless he’s posting up Terry Rozier or something, but has potential.

WEAKNESSES: While he’s athletic, Doncic is nowhere near the level of athlete that he’s going to face in the NBA. He doesn’t have the quickness that most guards in the league possess, and he could struggle because of that, especially early on. Doncic won’t be able to get away with some of the things he did in the EuroLeague, because while the competition there is solid, the freakish athletes who roam the NBA hardwood don’t exist there. Still, his size will be his friend, and his frame is such that he’ll get stronger as time goes on.

Doncic shot just 32.9% from three last season (57-for-173), and that was shooting from the FIBA three-point line, not the NBA line, which is a full foot further back. That’s going to need to improve. He did shoot 37% as an 18-year-old second year player, and his stroke is fine–so there’s plenty of optimism that he can get better with more reps.

He’s not as skilled a ballhandler as you’d like him to be, especially given the fact that you’re likely going to want him to run the offense. He needs to work on that part of his game, but it should improve with time.

BOTTOM LINE: We think Doncic will end up in Sacramento (which has the No. 2 pick), which could be a good situation for him. He’d have plenty of guys around him who have made the Euro-to-NBA jump (Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic, Bogdan Bogdanovic), and wouldn’t be expected to run the offense right away. Doncic could share ballhandling duties with De’Aaron Fox, which could help take the pressure off both. He’d also have a couple of great shooters to pass to in Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield.

This kid has the frame, passing skills, scoring resourcefulness and requisite athleticism to make him a future impact player. It’s going to take a minute for him to develop, but it could be well worth the wait.

 

MORE DRAFT PROFILES:

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