Potential No. 1 overall pick in 2018 NBA draft might stay in Europe
With the NBA draft lottery officially in the books, all eyes are now on the top prospects.
The Phoenix Suns and Sacramento Kings own the first and second overall picks, respectively, and a clear top two has emerged from the pool of potential rookies.
Arizona center DeAndre Ayton and Slovenian wing Luka Doncic, who plays for Real Madrid abroad currently, are the consensus picks to go in some order to the Suns and Kings.
Except there’s one big problem now: Despite people assuming the contrary, Doncic has not formally committed to making the leap to the NBA. If he does in fact stay in Europe, the ripple effects could be enormous.
Eurohoops.net provided the video of Doncic’s comments at the EuroLeague Final Four press conference.
“Ι’m not sure if these are the last two games [I’ll play in EuroLeague],” Doncic said. “We have yet to make this decision. Perhaps after the season.”
It’s not a hard commitment either way, but it’s enough to potentially throw the entire NBA draft on its head, especially considering how universally accepted it was that Doncic would enter this year’s draft.
Not only would a top prospect be dropping out, but the residual effects would be felt by teams other than the Suns or Kings. For instance, the Atlanta Hawks, who are sitting at No. 3, could be planning on taking the next top prospect after Doncic and Ayton. Without Doncic, the Kings could very well grab the player the Hawks were planning around.
Just as impactful as Doncic’s potential absence is Ayton’s actual potential. From now until the draft, which takes place June 21, scouts and critics will have an abundance of time to nitpick at prospects, and Ayton certainly isn’t a perfect prospect.
Case in point, Ayton and his Arizona Wildcats were embarrassed by the virtually no-name University of Buffalo in the very first round of the NCAA tournament. Ayton looked passive and disinterested in that game, two things you don’t want in potential franchise savior.
If concerns that Ayton only looks like a future NBA superstar (he’s a chiseled 7-foot-1 and 250 pounds) persist, combined with a Doncic decision to stay abroad, it could ruin many experts’ mock drafts.
But Ayton and Doncic do look like a pair of bona fide stars. It would still be surprising if the two weren’t the top two picks in the draft. It would be downright disappointing if Doncic wasn’t a top-two pick because he didn’t declare.
Doncic and Real Madrid will face Russian champions CSKA Moscow in the first EuroLeague Final Four game. Fenerbahce Dogus from Turkey and Zalgiris from Lithuania round out the rest of the Final Four.
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