Luka Doncic SG/SF Real Madrid
Luka Doncic certainly looks like the best available prospect in a very deep lottery class. Doncic is likely a bit of an unknown to the average fan because he’s a foreign player, but those who follow the NBA Draft are very familiar with the young Slovenian. Only 19, Doncic has been playing for Real Madrid in the best non-NBA league in the world, for 3 years – a certain benefit for my rankings. Unlike college basketball where we get a 30 game sample size, scouts have roughly 150 professional basketball games worth of film on Doncic.
Doncic has such a dynamic ability as a playmaker that you watch his highlights wondering if you’re crazy thinking of James Harden comparisons. He has serious range, which he unleashes with a Harden-esque simple step back. His 3-point percentage has gone down significantly this season- hovering around 30% as his attempts are up to 7 a game. This is certainly his worst year percentage wise shooting the 3 since he joined Real. Scouts will certainly stare at this number and question his ability to be a knock down shooter in the pro game, but his stroke looks effortless and repeatable, with the confidence to pull from anywhere. He’s also not taking the easiest looks – often pulling up well beyond the line off the dribble.
Doncic also adds a ton of versatility offensively to any team picking near the top of the draft. Outside of Phoenix with Devin Booker, no team drafting towards the top of the draft (not counting the Cavs) has a true give the ball to them and let them make a play- type playmaker. In today’s NBA where it’s much more free-flowing and there’s often 4 players sprinting to the 3 point line on a break-out it will help to have a 6’7 point guard with the ability to pull up himself. Doncic is that guy for the best team in the Spanish League. He averages 4.5 assists per 25 mins and when you watch his tape he is immediately putting defenses on their heels when bringing the ball up the court, looking to pull up or find a shooter or a lob. He spots shooters, has the ability to pull up from deep, can get to the hole and looks to dish at the hoop – what more could you want?
Obviously the biggest question marks for Doncic will be his athleticism. He’ll likely translate at a normal athlete for NBA comparisons, but will that hurt his development to be a good defensive player? Will bigger defenders be able to push him around? While watching Doncic film is obvious that the league he’s playing in is not the NBA – or a good college basketball game for that matter. Players aren’t making plays routinely above the rim. On breakaways and contested layups, the help defender isn’t often playing above the rim to an NBA or Duke level.
With all that said, Doncic remains on top of my prospect rankings. To me he looks to have, as I mentioned before, James Harden level playmaking ability when looking at passing and shooting. More realistically I see a Bradley Beal type offensive shooter with higher playmaking potential.