Sacramento Kings

Three things to know about Kings draft prospect Luka Doncic

Slovenia's Luka Doncic, left, and Goran Dragic react during their Eurobasket semifinal match against Spain in Istanbul on Sept. 14, 2017.
Slovenia's Luka Doncic, left, and Goran Dragic react during their Eurobasket semifinal match against Spain in Istanbul on Sept. 14, 2017. AP

With the NBA draft quickly approaching, Slovenian swingman Luka Doncic appears to be among the favorites to be taken by the Kings with the second-overall pick.

Doncic, who at 19 is the youngest MVP in EuroLeague history, is coming off a season in which he averaged 16.1 points and 4.4 assists per game.

He also helped lead Real Madrid to its 10th EuroLeague title over Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul, 85-80, on May 20.

But statistics and championship titles don’t exactly say it all for Doncic, so here’s three things you might not know about the 6-foot-8 EuroLeague star.

Ball is life

Doncic first held a basketball when he was 7 months old, began playing organized hoops around the age of 7 and was soon after pleading with his parents to go practice on his designated rest days, according to an ESPN feature in 2017.

He went on to sign a multiyear contract with Real Madrid at age 13 and became the youngest player to suit up for the club in the Liga ACB, which is the top professional division of the Spanish basketball league system, at 16. Three years later, Doncic captured a EuroLeague Final Four MVP award.

However, Doncic’s youth won’t stand out too much on draft day, as projected top-10 picks such DeAndre Ayton, Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young and Marvin Bagley III are all 19.

Basketball runs in the family

Doncic might be the best player in his family to pick up a basketball, but he’s not the first.

His father, Sasa Doncic, played just under 20 years of basketball with teams in Slovenia, Serbia and France. During this stretch, Sasa, now 44, played alongside Miami Heat guard Goran Dragic and captured Slovenian League championships in 2007 and '08.

Dragic also teamed with Luka Doncic to lead Slovenia to the Eurobasket gold medal on Sept. 17, 2017. Dragic won the MVP after scoring 35 points in the 93-85 win over Serbia, and he spoke highly of Doncic after the game, according to Yahoo Sports.

“He’s going to be one of the best in the whole world," Dragic said.

Doncic also has some family ties to the NBA, according to ESPN, as his godfather, Rasho Nesterovic, played 12 seasons in the league. Nesterovic was drafted 17th overall by the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1998. He averaged 6.8 points and 5.1 rebounds per game while playing for the Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs, Toronto Raptors and Indiana Pacers.

A familiar face

If drafted by Sacramento, Doncic will play alongside a former opponent in Kings’ guard Bogdan Bogdanovic.

The two competed against each other in last year’s EuroLeague Final Four semifinal between Fenerbahce and Real Madrid. Bogdanovic led Fenerbahce to an 84-75 win with 14 points over Doncic, who was held scoreless, and his Real Madrid club.

"I think (Doncic) can play here, and he has unbelievable talent," Bogdanovic told Eurohoops.net on Jan. 30. "I don't know if they're going to select him as the first pick, because that depends on him. But right now I can say he's the most experienced guy and most talented guy at that age, from 18 to 22. That's what I feel when I play against him and when I watch him play."

  Comments