This year’s NBA Draft is full of intriguing storylines. The shift in the pecking order of various prospects has been significant. Hype has constantly shifted from player to player, and even as it currently stands, there isn’t an absolute consensus on who will be the first player off the board.
Part of the drama has been the fluctuations in the perceived value of Slovenian superstar Luca Doncic. Rumors have ranged from him being the number one pick, to now perhaps dropping out of the top three. Something has to give.
Many NBA experts and analysts continue to rave over former Arizona Wilcats center DeAndre Ayton, and rightfully so. This guy has shown a lot of promise. His size, athleticism, and shooting skills make a very strong argument for his potential game-changing ceiling. But we have seen players of this sort before. What we haven’t seen is a phenom player like Luca Doncic.
Unlike his draft peers, Doncic is a highly proven prospect. He was initially signed by Real Madrid at the age of 13. At just 16 years old, he began competing with grown men, who have been playing competitive basketball for most of their adult lives. Doncic hasn’t flinched at the magnitude of his opportunity. In fact, he has only flourished since being inserted to the lineup with the big boys that Europe has to offer.
Currently just 19 years old, Doncic has reached tremendous accomplishments in his very young career. He just led Real Madrid to a Euroleague title. In the process, he was named the Final Four MVP. His brilliant performances capped off an incredible season, as he also received Euroleague MVP honors.
What makes Doncic so special is that he not only has a wealth of talent, but his game is highly polished. He has rare ball skills for a player his size. He currently stands 6’7 tall (and could still be growing), and he possesses the kind of ball control of much smaller players. He has the ability to play various positions, including point guard, shooting guard, or small forward. It’s that versatility that makes him such a rare gem.
His doubters continue to point toward examples from history that didn’t pan out the way people thought, with the name Darco Milicic being mentioned more than any others. But this is not the same situation at all. Milicic was all about potential. He was a raw talent that really should never have been drafted at the No. 2 spot – certainly not ahead of a young Carmelo Anthony.
People have a tendency to fear the unknown. And that pretty much sums up Luca Doncic. We’ve never seen a player like him before. That kind of uncertainty scares people. They don’t like to take chances with such a valuable pick. But the more you analyze his game film, stats, and overall persona, the more this pick seems to feel less risky. Besides, there are no guarantees in the NBA Draft. Every one of these top prospects could be a bust. They also could all be superstars. It’s about taking a calculated risk.
Whatever team drafts him, needs to be willing to look beyond the confines of history. They need to embrace the exciting change that Doncic could bring to the NBA. And that team could have a very bright future with him as the new face of their franchise.