Picked 3rd in the 2018 NBA Draft, the NBA knew that Slovenian star Luka Doncic was something special. Just a season-and-a-half later, he is surpassing any expectations he had entering the league.
For Dallas, who got lucky enough to pull off a Draft-day trade for the star, they must be rejoicing over the diamond they have obtained.
For others, like the Sacramento Kings, they must be feeling some regret. Instead of picking Luka that year, they elected to Draft Marvin Bagley III with the 2nd overall pick. According to Luka, he thought for sure that he’d end up in San Town that day.
According to two sources who witnessed the interaction, Joerger told Divac, in a passive-aggressive jest, that he had negotiated an in-season trade with the Mavericks that would finally bring Doncic their way.
So Divac, unamused by his coach’s barb, fired back. “Do I get their coach, too?” he said in reference to the Mavericks’ Rick Carlisle.
“They came to Madrid (to see him play for Real Madrid and to share a dinner on June 5, 2018),” the 20-year-old Doncic told The Athletic about the Kings’ contingent’s visit during the draft process. “They came with the owner. Everybody came, so I honestly thought they were going to pick me.”
So, I asked, was it ever made clear to him why they didn’t?
“I mean, I think it’s because of Euroleague; it’s different basketball,” Doncic said. “I was averaging in Europe — in the Spanish League — like 12 points (per game). And in Euroleague 14 (points per game). So it’s different basketball.”
Luka Doncic to @TheAthletic on the prospect of him coming to Sacramento in the draft.
“I honestly thought they were going to pick me…”https://t.co/GRufFjJuQ5
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) January 18, 2020
That mistake has proven to be costly for the Kings. As Bagley struggles to adjust to the NBA scene, Doncic has taken over the NBA, averaging a near triple-double en-route to leading his Mavericks to an impressive 27-15 record in the West.
We are only left to wonder what kind of turnaround would have happened for Sacramento had they changed their selection that day.