On Sunday news broke that the Sacramento Kings and Atlanta Hawks would pass on Doncic if he was available when they were on the clock at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. That is absolutely insane. No one in this draft possesses the versatility, basketball IQ or scoring ability Doncic does. Oh, and he’s got a longer resume of success than anyone else as well.
Doncic led Real Madrid to a Euroleague title on Sunday and was fantastic on the way to the championship. This season he earned Euroleague MVP honors and was the Euroleague Final Four MVP. Last year, he also led Slovenia to its first ever European Championship. He’s stacking up the accomplishments of a seasoned veteran and just turned 19 in February. He’s been playing regularly at the highest levels of European basketball since he was 16. The kid is a prodigy who is already showing next-level ability on the court.
For those opposed to selecting European players because of the massive disappointments that have popped up in the past, I get it. But European basketball isn’t what it was 10 years ago. Not only have the Europeans gotten better at the game, but so many Americans who can’t fit on NBA rosters opt to go over to Europe to money. They have helped elevate the game there, much like European soccer players have done for Major League Soccer over here (though obviously that’s still a work in progress).
So what does Doncic do? Well, he’s a 6’8″ combo guard who is listed at around 225 pounds, so he already has the size to compete in the NBA. He isn’t an elite athlete but has more than enough athleticism to get by. Doncic has virtually unlimited shooting range. He is quick off the dribble and is aggressive going after rebounds. He’s a fantastic finisher and a willing defender. He also has outstanding court vision and a high basketball IQ. When watching game tape, you can just see he’s processing things at a higher level than everyone else.
Another thing to love about Doncic is how passionate he is on the court. He’s into the game, pumps up his teammates and shows emotion. He leads from the front, which is even more impressive from someone so young playing with much older guys around him.
DeAndre Ayton appears to be Doncic’s main competition to be the top pick in this year’s draft. I’ve been a huge Ayton fan all year and repeatedly called him the best player in college basketball. I still believe that he’s the top college player available this year. That said, I think Doncic laps him as the best player in this draft. There’s a reason Doncic has been on NBA radars for years. He’s that good, and if he’d played college basketball he’d be the no-doubt No. 1 pick.
The Phoenix Suns recently hired Igor Kokoskov as their head coach. Kokoskov was the head coach for the Slovenian national team when it won the Eurobasket title in 2017. Doncic was a star on that team.
The Suns claim their pick won’t be decided by Kokoskov — who was Quin Snyder’s top assistant with the Utah Jazz this season — but you have to believe they’ll at least use him as a resource. He should know first hand what kind of player Doncic is and how badly the Suns could use a guy like him.
The 2018 NBA Draft is as deep as any we’ve seen in years. But if the Suns pass on Doncic, teams should be falling all over themselves to move up and select him. He’s the best player in this draft by far and should be the first player off the board.