It's no secret the Bulls are intrigued with the potential of 18-year-old European star Luka Doncic. General manager Gar Forman and international scouting director Ivica Dukan have seen the talented swingman in person on numerous occasions. Doncic is a lock to go in the top five of the 2018 draft, and if the Bulls are able to get him, they could feature a 1-2 European tandem with Lauri Markkanen that would shape the course of the franchise for the next decade.
So just how good is Doncic? NBA scouts rave about his potential with ball-handling skills and shot-creating ability seldom seen from such a young player facing quality EuroLeague competition. Doncic turns 19 on Feb. 28, and he's still growing, currently listed at 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds.
If you're old enough to remember "Pistol" Pete Maravich or have seen his work on video, Doncic has some of those qualities with a game that has plenty of flair and instinctive passes. But what really has scouts intrigued is the shot-making ability and physical strength he's shown at such a young age. Doncic has amazing body control and is scoring at a higher clip than any previous EuroLeague player at the same age. He's much further ahead in his development curve than players who’ve come over from Europe in recent years like Bojan Bogdanovic, Nikola Mirotic and Dario Saric. And if you're looking for current NBA comps, how about a player like Gordon Hayward, who features a well-rounded game with 20 points per game scoring ability and excellent court vision? Or maybe Goran Dragic, a tough point guard with the ability to score inside and out?
OK, so why isn't Doncic a slam-dunk No. 1 pick? Some scouts question his overall quickness and ability to move laterally on defense against superior athletes. Then there's the issue of which position he plays. Is he a point guard, shooting guard or small forward? Still, the way the NBA game is played today, it's really not important to be evaluated at just one position. Doncic is a talented perimeter scorer and passer who should be a great fit in any of the three-wing, two-bigs offenses we see on a nightly basis.
How would Doncic fit on the Bulls? He could probably step in right away as the starting small forward or come off the bench as a classic scoring sixth man, capable of backing up at three positions. Having Doncic, Kris Dunn and Zach LaVine on the perimeter would pose a major challenge to opposing defenses, with all three players capable of bringing the ball up court with pace and initiating the offense.
At this point in the college season, Duke's Marvin Bagley and Arizona's Deandre Ayton are running 1-2 for the honor of being the first player selected in June. But NBA scouts are also very high on Doncic, Michael Porter Jr., Mo Bamba, Collin Sexton and Jaren Jackson Jr. Yes, the Bulls would love to get a top-three pick, but the list of potential stars runs a lot deeper than that.