Nba draft preview why luka dončić should be the first overall pick – the franchise electricity for dummies pdf


If you follow me on Twitter , you’re probably already well aware of my opinion on Luka Dončić. The (barely) 19-year-old Slovenian has been playing professional basketball in the Spanish Liga ACB — the second-highest level of pro ball — since 16.

Dončić was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. All-Star Miami Heat point guard Goran Dragić also hails from the same city. His father played professional European ball, and Dončić has done more than follow in his footsteps — he’s creating his own. Dončić signed his first professional contract at 13 years old.

He shows incredible potential as a ballhandler. Although he’ll probably play forward in the NBA, his role with Real Madrid was more akin to playing the point. Think Ben Simmons, but instead of elite athleticism, he has elite shooting. In a league where over-sized playmakers are arguably the most valuable asset a team can have, don’t be shocked if Dončić is the first overall pick.

Unfortunately, that’s all we have on the prospect at the moment. Dončić was a little busy winning the EuroLeague championship and thus didn’t make it to the NBA draft combine. There’s also the rather important matter of whether or not Dončić does indeed come to the NBA this year, although I have a good feeling he will — more on that later.

• Professional competition. Dončić has been playing against grown men since he was 16 years old, and he’s looked the part. Liga ACB has put a number of former players into the NBA, and the EuroLeague (which is, in essence, a Champions League for basketball) is great prep for the rigors of NBA postseason play. Dončić will have an advantage over his peers, many of whom only played one year of college ball.

• EuroLeague competition isn’t good enough for you? Alright then. In the EuroBasket competition he played against the likes of Kristaps Porzingis, Jonas Valanciunas, Dario Saric, Pau Gasol, Dennis Schroder, and Nikola Vucevic. Dončić helped lead his national team to the title, averaging 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists at 18 years old.

• Excellent court vision. He’s beyond his years at finding open teammates. Especially adept at dancing around screens, driving, and kicking out to find an open teammate on the perimeter. Really reminds me a lot of Manu Ginobili in that department. Good at throwing outlet passes as well. He’s a point guard in a wing’s body.

• Sneaky functional athleticism and hang time allows him to change his shot in mid-air after taking contact. Shows great finesse on drives. A patient driver, not unlike Ginobili, and always seems to wriggle his way through tight spaces to score at the rim.

• Tends to play hunched over, especially when driving, which leads to some pretty bad turnovers. While this wasn’t a problem often against European competition, NBA defenders will take advantage of him having his head down by swatting and poking at the ball. Needs to become more flexible.

• We have yet to see Dončić display a ‘killer instinct,’ so to speak. He was clearly head-and-shoulders above most other players in his league, so I would’ve expected to see a more dominant performance from someone who is clearly capable of doing so. Considered one of the most advanced offensive prospects in draft history, I would have liked to see more nasty from Dončić.

Although the NBA has changed remarkably over the past five to ten years, the conventional draft logic seems to have remained steady, at least in the minds of many: the best big in the draft should be the one to go first overall. While DeAndre Ayton is a fine player (I’ll be profiling him next), Dončić is, in my opinion, a generational talent.

Firstly, as mentioned earlier, Dončić has already accomplished just about everything there is to accomplish in European basketball. He could keep it up and try to win another title, but why? If he’s seriously injured, he’s looking at a loss of millions. Which leads me to my next point.

The average EuroLeague salary is around €1 million — about $1.2 million USD. He’s not even in the top 30 in terms of salaries. While I’m sure he’s paid better than just about any other 19-year-old in the world (especially when you factor in endorsements), the money he could make as the first, second, or third overall pick immediately dwarfs his current paygrade.

“[Doncic] is under contract in Real Madrid. If he doesn’t want to go to Sacramento, he can definitely make things hard on them by saying, ‘Guys if you draft me, I’m going to sign a huge extension, I’m going to make 2 million Euro next year and I’m not coming over until you trade my rights.’

He’s never at any point said 100 percent he’s coming over next year. I think he’d like to, obviously you want to get your rookie-scale contract started, you want to get moving on that second deal four years from now. But he has a lot more leverage in this process than anybody else in this draft.”

However, if the Phoenix Suns take a shot at him first overall, it’s hard to see Dončić skipping out on the NBA for another year. Add in the fact that the Suns just hired Igor Kokoskov, who coached Dončić’s Slovenian team to a EuroBasket title in 2017, and it makes a ton of sense for a Dončić + Suns marriage.

We will likely not know until after the draft whether or not Dončić will come to the NBA this off-season. Regardless, he could be a generational talent, so a team will certainly take a shot at him sooner rather than later. Waiting a year or two would be a small price to pay for the boundless potential of Luka Dončić.