A couple of weeks into the season and 16-year-old Luka Doncic has already been forced into the rotation in his first couple of weeks as a full time pro. Injuries to Rudy Fernandez and Jeffrey Taylor have left Real Madrid thin on the wing and Pablo Laso has not hesitated to send the teenager out there against high-level competition.
Doncic played the wing in the first game against Bauru and then ran point for a good stretch of game two, after Sergio Rodriguez was ejected early in the first half.
The strengths and weaknesses he showed at the junior level have pretty much translated into the pros so far.
Doncic is not very explosive off the dribble at this point of his life, struggling to blow by Robert Day attacking off a live dribble darting around a pindown screen and failing to turn the corner around Rafael Hettsheimeir to get to the rim in a position of strength.
He struggled navigating screens but signaled he is going to be at least a good individual defender due to his physical profile (six-foot-six, 195 pounds). Doncic contained Leonardo Meindl’s dribble penetration through contact in isolation, which was quite impressive when you consider Meindl’s size (six-foot-seven, 200 pounds). He also showed lateral quickness to keep pace with Alex Garcia stride-for-stride chasing him around a side screen and then used his length to contest Alex’s short toss-up attempt very well.
His most impressive skill at this point remains his court vision, though. Doncic kept his turnovers under control when running offense and then flashed his ability to create corner three-point shots without even threatening to dribble inside the arc. He does it by anticipating rotations extremely well.
Against Unicaja, Doncic played as a wing in all of his 14 minutes, was off the ball and didn’t do much of anything other than hit a three-pointer and draw some shooting fouls in garbage time. That was also the case in his 16 minutes against the Celtics. Fernandez returned against Valência yesterday and Laso utilized Doncic only as a minutes-eater, giving him just six minutes.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara