3D wing, Pure Passer, Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Luka Doncic Scouting Report

Luka Doncic continues to build on what has to be the most remarkable résumé for a teenage basketball phenom ever.

Slovenia won the 2017 Eurobasket last month and the 18-year-old[1] was not only a rotation player in this winning run, leading the squad in minutes, which alone would be very impressive for someone his age, but was in fact a key reason why such an accomplishment was possible to begin with, ranking third on the team in plus-minus – according to FIBA.com.

[1] Who only turns 19 in February

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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3D wing, Pure Passer, Shot Creator, Tall Passer

Luka Doncic Scouting Report

CONTEXT

Luka Doncic has the most impressive résumé of a teenage basketball phenom walking around the Earth right now, having earned 1,613 minutes of EuroLeague and Spanish ACB[1] experience last season. The 18-year-old[2] was not just a rotation cog but also a viable option to finish games for Real Madrid – a dominant powerhouse that enters every game with the expectation it is supposed to win.

The Slovenian is a giant shot creator[3]whose biggest value is as someone who runs offense on lineups that go super big across the perimeter but who can also share the floor with a smaller point guard and space the floor or create against a scrambling defense as a conventional wing. 48.3% of his live ball attempts were three-pointers last season.

The biggest issue for teenagers at the pro level is dealing with the physical nature of the game, which often makes them a liability on defense. But there is no such problem with Doncic, who has even proven himself strong enough to hold his ground in the post against veterans a decade older than him.

That said, there are concerns regarding his ability to defend on the ball, which as a result opens up questions about who exactly he needs to be surrounded with.

[1] Which Next-Step Basketball ranks as the best domestic league in Europe

[2]Who only turns 19 in February

[3] Real Madrid lists him at six-foot-six, 218 pounds

(Check the rest of the post at RealGM)

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Luka Doncic Scouting Report

With Sergio Rodriguez transferring to the NBA and Facundo Campazzo loaned to Murcia once again, expectation was that 17 year-old Luka Doncic was going to be a more active part of Real Madrid’s rotation this season, even after the signing of Don Draper – a favorite of head-coach Pablo Laso.

And that has not only materialized but the Slovenian phenom is also up to a very strong start. He’s logged 72 minutes against tough competition – Barcelona, Unicaja, Oklahoma City and Valencia – and as of now should probably be expected to log something like 1,500 minutes this year.

The biggest issue with teenagers at the pro level is the physical nature of the game but there is no such concern with Doncic. Real Madrid still lists him as a six-foot-six, 218-pounder but he’s come back from the summer noticeably taller and with a bulkier frame.

Doncic has consistently proven he has the strength to hold ground in the post against men 10-15 years older than him.

But more impressive was this drive against Victor Oladipo on a straight isolation, where Doncic was able to maintain his balance through contact and get all the way to the basket.

At that size and possessing that sort of strength to hold his own on defense against wings and even true big men on switches, Doncic provides tremendous flexibility for his coach to adjust lineups around him according to the opponent.

Against Unicaja, he struggled to defend Nemanja Nedovic, who blew by him on a couple of straight isolations.

Doncic also doesn’t navigate screens particularly well at this point of his development.

As he still works through those issues, Doncic should probably log most of his minutes this season alongside Draper, freeing him up to act as a weak-side defender more often. Doncic has some lapses in attention at times but has tremendous quickness closing out to spot-up shooters and preventing catch-and-shoot attempts.

And he’s also flashed some potential as a help defender, rotating inside to contest close range attempts.

Pairing him up with a point guard who matches up against opposing point guards is also what is best for Real Madrid on offense.

While Doncic has flashed the ability to go to the post now and again, he doesn’t often look to back down smaller opponents and Real Madrid’s offense is not too focused on exploring mismatches.

Doncic is at his most comfortable controlling the game 25 feet away from the basket and with a full view of the defense in front of him. He has phenomenal court vision and can anticipate passing lanes a second before they come open (though his high turnover rate continues to be a problem).

Doncic has proven he can be relied on to create offense on an every-possession basis, so it makes sense that Laso would prefer surrounding him with taller, lengthier, more threatening shooters like Jeffrey Taylor, Jonas Maciulus, Rudy Fernandez and Andres Nocioni, so he can build a more dynamic defensive lineup at the same time.

But the biggest advantage is forcing opponents to guard him with bigger wings who struggle navigating ball screens and generally defending in space, especially because Doncic can be a more dangerous scorer matched up against such types.

Doncic is not particularly explosive off the dribble, mostly relying on a sweet-looking floater to finish over length from the in-between area on dribble drives against a set defense.

But as he grows older and probably even stronger, the expectation is most of his interior scoring will come via bullyball; bulldozing his way to the basket (maintaining his balance through contact) or earning lots of free throws (five foul shots per 40 minutes so far this season).

At age 17, Doncic is already a rotation regular and a viable option to finish games for his team, which happens to be one of the five best in the continent and is expected to win every single game it plays but a few here and there against other giant powerhouses who spend just as much money. No other player in his age group has accomplished as much by this point.

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor and at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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Luka Doncic Scouting Report

(First posted at Upside & Motor.)

CONTEXT

Probably no other underage player in the world has gotten as much high level experience as Luka Doncic last season.

The 17-year-old born in Slovenia didn’t immediately become a rotation player in his first full season as pro with Real Madrid but it’s not as if he was only carried on the senior squad to earn experience in practice either.

Head-coach Pablo Laso saw him as a legit viable option for certain situations and as the team dealt with some injuries midway through the year, Doncic logged 668 minutes, including 133 minutes against Euroleague competition.

PHYSICAL PROFILE

And with Sergio Rodriguez transferring to the NBA, there is a chance Doncic will earn more regular playing time next season, which he should be able to handle, even at such a young age, because of his size (six-foot-five, 218 pounds – according to Real Madrid’s website).

The biggest issue for teenagers at the pro level is dealing with the physical nature of the game but there is no such issue with Doncic, best reflected in his ability to maintain his balance through contact on drives, get dribble penetration deep into the lane and finish through contact. His large frame invites contact, awarding him 4.3 foul shots per 40 minutes last season.

More impressive, though, is the fact he can already put his strength to use in the post. In one of the games against Barcelona in the ACB Finals Doncic took 31-year-old, 230-pounder Stratos Perperoglou to the low block and backed him down into a short-range attempt that net him free throws.

Then when Perpeoglou tried taking it back to him on the very next possession (it was a matter of pride at that point given Doncic is a teenager), the Slovenian proved himself tough enough to hold his ground in post defense and shut the Greek veteran down in very impressive fashion.

ATHLETICISM

Doncic’s athletic ability isn’t up to speed with his size, though. Playing against fully developed men, the 17-year-old hasn’t shown particularly impressive quickness and hops off the bounce at this point of his development.

Doncic can get off the ground out of one foot to finish with power in transition or on a straight line drive unimpeded and play above the rim as a target for lobs on weak-side cuts along the baseline.

But he doesn’t have great speed playing downhill in pick-and-roll or on straight-line drives off a live-dribble, also lacking burst to turn the corner and attack the rim with explosiveness. Doncic hasn’t flashed much ability to hang in the air and finish around length either.

He’s for sure athletic enough to make pitch in some on defense, though. While his contributions through blocks and steals are marginal, Doncic collected 20% of opponents’ misses when he was on the floor last season – according to RealGM. That’s a remarkable rate for any perimeter player, let alone a point guard.

POLISH

Because of his size, Doncic can play any spot around the perimeter at the European level. But regardless of position, at his core, he’s a lead ball-handler who looks to create shots for others as his priority.

Doncic has impressive court vision and has proven to be the sort of passer who anticipates openings a second before they happen, assisting on 20.2% of Real Madrid’s scores when he was on the floor last season – which is more impressive than it sounds because he often shared the floor with either Rodriguez or Sergio Llull, and they were the ones responsible for running offense.

Doncic is too aggressive trying to threat the needle with some of his assist attempts on the move, though. At this point of his development, he is a turnover machine, coughing it on 27.6% of his possessions last season.

His handle is solid for someone his age, though he hasn’t yet shown many dribble moves to create separation side-to-side to get decent looks off the dribble. He is a capable pull-up shooter if the opponent gets stuck on a screen or sells out to take away the lob to the roll man and leaves him open but not at all the sort of shot maker who stresses defensive schemes, like his teammates Llull and Rodriguez are, for example.

Off the catch, Doncic is an average open-shot gunner as of now. He’s sort of a set shooter, getting very little elevation off the ground, but his release is quicker in comparison to what it looked in junior ranks and the mechanics look clean – nailing 36.8% of his 68 three-point attempts last season. Doncic hasn’t shown much in terms of shooting coming off screens yet, though.

Defensively, he stays on a stance defefending off the ball and has shown signs he’s an attentive team defender rotating inside to take up space but struggles chasing opponents around screens. In that area, his size is actually a disadvantage as he’s often gotten stuck on picks. Doncic is also not above getting caught watching at the ball and beaten backdoor from time to time, which is to be expected from someone his age.

Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at Upside & Motor and at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara

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Luka Doncic Scouting Report

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

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Luka Doncic Scouting Report

(Originally posted at Upside & Motor)

CONTEXT

You have heard of Dragan Bender, Zhou Qi and Thon Maker by now – the next generation of foreign-born phenoms who are about to reach the NBA in the next couple of years, and you will soon be hearing whispers about Luka Doncic as well.

Competing against an older age group, the 16-year-old born in Slovenia led Real Madrid to titles in the Spanish league U18 and the Adidas Next Generation Tournament last season. He already logged 24 minutes with the senior squad in five appearances in the Spanish ACB, to dip his toes in the water, and needed only six seconds to hit his first shot as a pro.

Listed at six-foot-six and 195 pounds, Doncic has a big frame for someone his age and some more playing time as a pro might be in the horizon. Real Madrid currently lists him as part of the senior squad and didn’t sign a third string point guard this summer, which suggests they might be planning on carrying the teenager in the active roster often next season.

PLAYMAKING

Doncic has prototypical size for a wing but his skill-set is perfectly suited to run point. He was responsible with initiating offense for Real Madrid’s junior squad and the one tasked with coming up with something late in the shot clock, after a busted play or off an offensive rebound (which resets the shot clock to 14 in FIBA rules).

Doncic is not very explosive turning the corner to get into the lane out of the pick-and-roll against a set defense on a play-to-play basis. But he might be one of those special passers who doesn’t have to in order to create shots for others. He has excellent court vision – passing ahead in transition, anticipating rotations by the defense in the half-court and hitting teammates cutting to the rim with great timing.

According to the Euroleague’s website, Doncic posted 45 assists in 231 minutes, an average of seven assists per 36 minutes, in two events of the Adidas Next Generation Tournament. According to stats made available by the Spanish federation, Doncic posted 32 assists in 120 minutes in the Spanish league U18, an average of 9.6 assists per 36 minutes.

He is also, however, quite reckless trying to thread the needle with these passes, which makes him turnover prone at this point. Doncic turned it over 29 times in the Adidas Next Generation events (an average of 4.5 turnovers per 36 minutes) and 18 times in the Spanish league U18 (an average of 5.4 turnovers per 36 minutes). These giveaways are mostly bad passes, as his handle is not too loose and he is attentive to dribble the ball low in traffic.

He is more often looking to pass on the move but can create his own shot in isolation against that age group. His first step isn’t all that impressive in these instances and he rarely blows by his man on his way to the basket but Doncic can sustain his balance through contact and is able to go side-to-side to force his opponent into hesitation, managing to get separation and pull-up comfortably from mid-range.

SCORING

Like most players his age, Doncic is at best a capable open-shot shooter at this point. He can make outside shots, both off the bounce and off the catch, when he has time to go through his motion comfortably. With a hand in his face, the consistency is not there yet. Doncic hit 12 of the 39 three-point shots he took in nine appearances at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament but just six of his 21 such attempts in six games of the Spanish league U18.

He gets little elevation off the ground, sometimes even looking like a set shooter, which results in a low point in his release. His mechanics are clean but the shooting motion is a bit methodical.

Doncic can get to the basket on drives against a set defense from time to time but doesn’t attack the rim with any sort of explosiveness and hasn’t shown the ability to hang in the air to finish around length. He has flashed an euro-step to get around rim protection in transition but that hasn’t really been a go-to move of his in the half-court.

DEFENSE

Doncic gets on his stance and plays with effort, which is encouraging for someone his age. Even though he was a year or two younger than most of the opponents he played against, Doncic was a decent defender thanks to his size and has the physical attributes to develop into an impact player on that end.

He sometimes gets caught on screens but has enough foot speed to recover to his man well and make himself a threat to block the shot or shut down the passing lane as a trailer. Doncic has lateral quickness to guard players of that age group in isolation and use the strength in his frame to contain dribble penetration through contact. There is no record of his wingspan but he appears to have good length to contest shots effectively defending on the ball, though his closeouts to spot-up shooters leave something to be desired.

His contribution on the glass does not, though. Doncic was excellent tracking the ball off the rim against that level of competition, using his edge in athleticism to make an impact helping Real Madrid protect the glass. He averaged 10.1 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes in the Adidas Next Generation and 12.3 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes in the Spanish league U18 – incredible marks for any guard.

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

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