It is not the No.1 draft pick- Deandre Ayton or No.2- Marvin Bagley III who is impressing the world, it is 19-year-old Slovenian Basketball magician Luka Dončić, drafted as the 3rd pick this season in the NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks, but shifted to the Dallas Mavericks.
Born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, Dončić shone as a youth player for Union Olimpja, before signing with Real Madrid at age 13 in 2012. Debuting in the senior side at age 16, the youngest in club history, he led Real to the 2018 Euroleague Title, winning multiple MVP awards aged just 19.
Dončić is versatile on the offensive end, displaying proficiency in shooting three-pointers and mid-range jump shots as well as floaters and shots in the post. His tall muscular structure puts him on advantage against many. His basketball IQ, intangibles, and skills have been considered his primary assets, and he is seen as an elite facilitator, especially on the pick and roll. However, his lack of pace is a key disadvantage.
His fame in Europe attracted attention in all of the United States. He was included in the 2018-19 Draft and was drafted to the Atlanta Hawks before getting traded to the Mavericks for Trae Young. Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle said,
“At one point, we thought there might be a slight chance Dončić could fall to us, but a couple of days ago it was pretty clear that there was no way that was going to happen. He’s just too good. We get a guy we think is franchise foundation piece.”
He made his regular season debut on October 17, 2018, recording 10 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists, in a 121–100 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Later, Dončić recorded 26 points and 6 rebounds in a 140–136 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, becoming the youngest 20-point scorer in the franchise. His performances made him the NBA rookie of the month in the Western Conference for November 2018. On December 8th Dončić scored 21 points in a 107–104 win over the Houston Rockets, producing the last 11 points of the game to lead the Mavericks to victory.
The man is predicted as the ‘Rookie of the Year’, but the best is yet to come. 19-year-old Luka Dončić is the star in the making.