By: Joe Cardoso
When it comes to European basketball players the history is shall we say rocky. Don’t get me wrong the league has been blessed with not just some great players from overseas but hall of fame ballers. Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Dirk Nowitzki, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the late great Drazen Petrovic. But it hasn’t been all roses for some of Europe’s “Next Big Thing” Let’s go down the list of guys who we saw for a little, drooled over their YouTube highlights and NEVER saw anything close to that in the league. Some of them didn’t even give us Summer League hype to cling onto.
Jan Vesely 6th pick in 2011 Washington Wizards
Andrea Bargnani 1st overall Toronto Raptors 2006
Yi Jianlian 7th overall 2007
Darko Milicic 2nd pick 2003
If ANYONE has one of these jerseys in their collection PLEASE send me a picture because you are a different level of fan. It’s bust’s like this that make GM’s league-wide very nervous about grabbing guys, not from the USA. Too many guys have lost jobs because of a players “potential” which doesn’t win you games or rings so now the risk is higher. The video and information on players are better now than it was 10 years ago thanks to the internet and advanced stats. That doesn’t mean teams don’t hold their breath come draft time and they want to go Euro, this year one team that did that is the Dallas Mavericks picking Luka Doncic at age 19 after a few years of lighting up the Euro Leauge. He should have been the first player picked in this years NBA Draft but wasn’t and the fans of the Dallas Mavericks couldn’t be happier.
So far the results have been anything BUT a bust as he has taken the NBA by storm and this team. Some players have that “it” factor and he has it. Want the ball in crunch time he’s up to it, bounce back after a tough game or loss he’s up to it, adjustments to living in a new place he’s up to it. What has really impressed me about his is his feel for the game when to take over, when to let the game come to him and he’s 19!! I can think of some teams that would KILL to have their vets do that. At 6’7 218 pounds he can give it to you how you want it, inside or out off the dribble or catch and shoot. On draft night many wondered if the Hawks or Mavs got the better end of the trade that saw Trae Young go to the ATL and Luka to Dallas. Both are having good first years but I will say Luka is the clear favorite for rookie of the year so far and is carrying this Mavs team. Averaging 18 points 7 rebounds and 5 dimes he and Dennies Smith Jr make a fun and exciting backcourt. The B word should not be mentioned when speaking on Lukac and he is just getting started. For those teams who in the past got burned by an overseas player and hear your team may do it again have faith, this kid is proof that the basketball overseas is getting better and so better young ballers are on the way. For now, enjoy what this kid is doing. The James Harden like iso skills, the LeBron James like vision at 6’7 and a steady jumper.
Went back to watch the Mavs-Rockets 4th quarter. Luka corner three. Step-back three. P&R drive, stop, finish. Step-back three.
JJJ may well be AD 2.0, but for now Luka Doncic is king of the class. pic.twitter.com/7Ocv4goKei
— Paul Headley NBA (@PaulHeadleyNBA) December 9, 2018