Luka Doncic had a sublime performance against the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of their second-round series. In a win-or-go-home situation, Luka Doncic stepped up big time, as he scored 35 points to lead the Mavericks to a dominant victory over the Suns.
Doncic has been touted as one of the future faces of the NBA, with many believing that he has the potential to go down as one of the greatest of all time. But not everyone was a believer in him as he was coming into the league.
In 2018, when the Phoenix Suns were awarded the first overall pick in the NBA Draft after the lottery, Stephen A. Smith said that the Phoenix Suns should select Deandre Ayton with their pick.
Smith even dismissed Luka Doncic, saying that he doesn't care about the young player from Europe and that Ayton is the obvious choice to go first overall in the 2018 NBA Draft (0:05 onwards).
“Deandre Ayton is going to be the number one overall pick. But it’s incredibly important that the Phoenix Suns don’t mess this up. He’s right there in Arizona, he’s right down the road. You need a box office attraction who can flat-out ball, who is a big boy. The size, the athleticism, and the combination of all of those things with his gifts that you simply can’t teach. I don’t give a damn about how this kid in Europe looks, I understand he’s a 6’8 point guard, he’s surreal, he’ll probably be the number two overall pick… But in Phoenix, considering the level of ineptitude that they have raked that city with… Deandre Ayton, there is nothing to think about, there is nothing to talk about, there is nothing to debate. There is absolutely nothing to consider. You have to take Deandre Ayton with the number one overall pick because you are the Phoenix Suns.”
Stephen A. Smith would end up being very wrong over the next few years. Deandre Ayton has proven himself to be one of the best young prospects in the league, especially when it comes to big men.
But Luka Doncic has proven himself as a once-in-a-generation talent, who has been a multiple-time All-Star and made All-NBA teams. Ayton has had more success in the post-season, but he was doing so as the third option behind Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
Ayton was considered the obvious first overall pick because of his size, but as we have learned since, it was the wrong decision, as Doncic has been sensational ever since he stepped foot in the NBA.