If you watch NBA then chances are very slim that you haven’t heard about this young man. The Slovenian is only 19 years old and he is already establishing himself as a household name. His story starts in Slovenia, where he was shining from a young age. When he was eight years old he joined Union Olimpija and within minutes of the first training session, his coach moved him to another group, to play against 11-year-olds. When he was only 13 he signed a five-year contract with one of the best teams in Europe, Real Madrid.
He played his first professional game with Real Madrid on April 30, 2015, against Unicaja. That season he only played 5 games. Next year he started to get more playing time and mature as a player. He played 39 games in the Spanish basketball league while averaging 4.5 points, 1.7 assists, and 2.6 rebounds. Another astonishing accomplishment by him was that he played his first game in Euroleague before turning 17-years-old.
The 2016-2017 was the season where he started getting the attention of many scouts around the continent. In this season he won two awards, the EuroLeague Rising Star and the ACB Best Young Player Award. He managed to double his stats, averaging 7.5 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3 assists on the Spanish League while in EuroLeague he had 7.8 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. The 2017-2018 proved that he was NBA material and can become the next great European player. He put even better numbers than the previous season. He averaged 12.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.7 assists per game in the Spanish League while in the EuroLeague he won the EuroLeague MVP award.
Here comes the future regret of the Atlanta Hawks. Hawks initially drafted Doncic with the third pick, but they ended up trading him to Dallas Mavericks for the draft rights of their favorited player, Trae Young and a protected first round pick in 2019. When Dallas gave up the rights for Trae Young and took Luka Doncic many people were surprised because they thought that he wasn’t ready yet for NBA and that he lacks speed and athleticism to provide any real value to a team. When you add that to the fact that many teams have been disappointed by promising Europeans (Andrea Bargnani anyone?) and they thought that he would be yet another bust. Boy, were they wrong, even though only a third of the season is done but the performances of this young man have dazzled many people and even his most diehard critics had to swallow their words. The moment he started playing they saw that this kid would end up being special and has the basketball IQ of a veteran that has been playing for quite a long time in the league.
He is playing out of his mind, in the 23 games that he has played so far, he is not averaging rookie numbers. With an average of 18.2 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.1 steals per game, he is elevating the Mavericks in every single way. On his regular season debut, he put up 10 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists. Against the San Antonio Spurs on October 29, he scored 31 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. These are definitely numbers that you don’t expect from rookies nowadays, and even less from rookies that aren’t considered to be slashers and genuine scorers.
His best performance yet came against the Houston Rockets, he scored 11 straight points on the final minutes of the game. With less than 3 minutes left in the game and the Mavs trailing by 8 points, he scored 3 three-pointers and a beautiful floater to give the Mavericks the lead. These points helped the home team to get a much-needed win. Seeing him hit those clutch shots you would get the impression that he has been doing this for many years now. His coach was full of praise for the young Slovenian as he said that “he’s unafraid”. We have to agree with that statement, how many 19-year-olds do you see hitting 3 three-pointers in the last 2 minutes of the game while not even flinching.
Copyrights: Houston Chronicles
It’s the beginning of the season and he may face many hardships, just like other rookies do, but then again you can him managing to adapt to the league at a very fast pace. He is for sure performing wonderfully offensively, but his defense can’t be undermined, he knows where he has to be at all times, his positioning is impeccable and that is a major boost to his squad.
We don’t want to rush and say that he may be the best rookie we have seen in a long time and the game of DeAndre Ayton and Trae Young is looking solid thus far, but my vote goes to Luka Doncic, and unless his performances drop significantly I don’t believe that he will be losing the title of the Rookie of the year anytime soon.