EuroLeague star Luka Doncic, a 19-year-old phenom who signed a professional contract with Real Madrid when he was 13, could go as high as No. 1 overall in the upcoming NBA Draft. His combination of size (6-foot-6), agility (see highlights) and projectable upside make him a potential franchise cornerstone for a team fortunate enough to draft him.
However, the rising star hasn't committed to leaving Europe for the NBA's greener pastures ... yet. On Thursday, Doncic told reporters he's still undecided about whether he'll stay in the EuroLeague or join whichever NBA franchise will soon draft him in the top of the lottery in June.
"Ι'm not sure if these are my last two games [in EuroLeague]," Doncic said via Eurohoops.net. "We have yet to make this decision. Perhaps after the season."
If you're the Phoenix Suns, Sacramento Kings, Atlanta Hawks or Memphis Grizzlies -- the teams drafting in the top four -- Doncic's comments are probably startling on the surface. But context into Doncic's current situation suggests that any thoughts about him staying in the EuroLeague are probably no more than a smoke screen.
Doncic is in the midst of making a run for a EuroLeague title, so much like top college prospects being asked about their plans for the NBA during the heat of March Madness, the timing for Doncic to reveal his intentions beyond this season isn't right. If he were to announce he's set on leaving for the NBA, it could give off a strong vibe to his teammates that he's quit on the team and looking toward the next chapter of his life.
Top EuroLeague prospects have been drafted high before and intentionally delayed their departure, such as Ricky Rubio, who was drafted fifth overall in 2009 but didn't come to the States until 2011. But Doncic is likely a different case for two reasons: 1. He's almost certainly going to be drafted higher, and 2. Rubio is Spanish and was playing near his hometown.
It seems we won't know until the end of the EuroLeague season whether or not Doncic's comments are sincere or just him navigating the media during the wrap-up of the EuroLeague season, but his comments could be enough to potentially give pause to teams considering drafting him at the top of this year's lottery.