By: Alex Norwood
The level of publicity enjoyed by the European NBA is dwarfed by what you get from America and this may be the reason why Luka Doncic is not covering the front pages of the most prestigious basketball dailies and periodicals. But the world of basketball in Europe is perhaps experiencing something it has never seen before. This is a young lad whose talent is never in doubt, and who has been doing things none did at his age.
The Slovenian lad is just 18 years of age and has already enjoyed 26 games in professional basketball. The highlight is that he was even very instrumental to the success of his team in Europe in the last term. So, his resume is actually a show of the amount of skills he possesses in the slam and dunk game, even at a very young age. He is already ripe for the big stage.
A look at this lad that seems set to take over the world of basketball reveals that he was never away from basketball. His father blazed the trail for him in the game. He actually grew up on the hardwood, and while growing up, he was always involved in basketball, as his father brought him to games with him. He had a godfather in Rasho Nesterovic who was a legendary figure in the NBA. So, he started experiencing basketball right from the age 7. His father had the respect of the world due to his amazing skills while playing for clubs in Slovenia. But, Doncic is taking it to the next level with his accurate passes, perfect ball handling, amazing shot, and excellent touch and rotation. This was always going to get him to the limelight, and it has started.
His Growth in Basketball
Doncic’s spell into organized basketball started when he was in the primary school. In 2007, he moved to Union Olimpija with his father when his career at Domzale ended. Because of the affection between Union Olimpija coach and his family, he was invited to train with the generation of 1999 players. But, even though the boy was just 8 years old, he dominated the training. He lasted for just 16 minutes with the 1999 generation and was moved to the 1996 generation because of how good he was. He had just one full practice with the 1996 team that comprised players older than him before he was moved to the main team of Olimpija. It was in the selection team that he developed in the later years. Then, he mainly played with and against 3 and 4 years older players.
But he couldn’t get a 14-level competition because he was just 8 and the league rules are against that. However, he was heading his age group and was sometimes brought in to the under 12 group through the bench. He was so eager to get in the game that he normally pleads with his parents to allow him to go and practice with the older teams when he is off. With this, he can always be on the court.
When he became 12 years old, he dominated the under 12 and 13 teams in all the tournaments in his country and throughout Europe. While this skinny kid has a great deal of physicality, his talent and mental makeup makes him outstanding. He is very instinctive and competitive.
His Present State in the Game
His rise to stardom started when he made his debut for Real Madrid on April 2015, making him the youngest player to ever achieve this. This happened just two months after his 16th birthday. While he was playing in the midst of experienced players, he was so outstanding that whenever he is on the court, he manned the offence of that prestigious club. He enjoyed about 20 minutes in every game, and averaged 15.7 points, 8.5 assists and nine rebounds per 40 in Euroleague. His performance in the Spain ACB and other competitions were also similar to the above, placing him at a place no one could ever doubt his ability. At some point, he was the best player on the court for Real Madrid, even at that age.
Of course, his talent can match any other in the NBA. At this tender age, he is already a great contender in Euroleague, a playmaker, and one who handles the ball perfectly. When looking at Doncic being the next big thing in Europe NBA, many people try to compare him with great teenage prospects in the past like Dario Saric. However, it would be noted that while Saric did great at 18 for Cibona, he only joined the Euroleague at 20, after singing for Anadolu Efe. If you decide to compare him to Ricky Rubio, it still does not hold water because he only got to European competitions after turning 19. When it comes to scoring, he was never as efficient as Doncic too. The fact remains that at Doncic’s age, there is no American kid that can change games the way he does. None will be trusted with the role of the playmaker in a game by coaches as Doncic. At 17, Doncic is doing things nobody has done in the world of basketball.
His Future in Basketball
Going further, the prospects that await this kid in the NBA cannot be downplayed. He could actually be a young version of Gordon Hayward, Hedo Turkoglu or a better Kyle Anderson if he works on his shooting, ability to scatter defenses, athleticism, and his passing ability.
However, because he is already nearing these qualities, and also has the time to develop on them, we can say that he will be better than all the mentioned. He will be on a league of his own. He is now being tagged at the number one pick in the next NBA drafting.