Luka Doncic’s breakout EuroBasket performance helped solidify his case to be the next No. 1 overall pick, argues Trevor Magnotti (Tuomas Vitikainen/Creative Commons).


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Led by tournament MVP Goran Dragic and impressive 18-year-old Luka Doncic, Slovenia upset the perennial favorite, Spain, on its way to a EuroBasket Gold, the first medal of any kind in the tournament for the small country of only about 2 million people. Trevor Magnotti, who covers all things EuroLeague at The Step Back, joins Aaron to break down the most important takeaways from EuroBasket, including the draft implications of Doncic’s performance and the possibility of new young powerhouses in Latvia, Slovenia and Finland replacing the longtime European mainstays of Spain and France. Of course, Aaron also gets Trevor’s viewpoint on how some of this season’s European rookies, such as the Clippers’ Milos Teodosic and the Cavaliers’ Cedi Osman, may fare in their transition into the NBA. Tour through the episode with these excerpts below:

6:51-7:35: “[Lauri] Markkanen came in on this [Finnish] team, and he immediately took charge of the situation. He was a massive part of their success, basically single-handedly beat[ing] France in the group stage in that big overtime upset that was by far the game of the tournament to me…He both kind of helped his team to a lot of success and also helped himself a little bit. I think that he’s a guy that I’m now much more excited to see at the NBA level, whereas I wasn’t really before, because he didn’t look as solid as we had hoped in his one year of college.”

13:23-15:11: “The fact that he [Luka Doncic] is 18 and he’s playing this big of a role on a team in this tournament, which is basically like the second tier below the Olympics in terms of international basketball, that’s never really happened before. Really the only player that I can think of who has played this big of a role on a EuroBasket team at his age is Pau Gasol, and that’s no small comparison. Pau is by far the most productive young player that we’ve ever seen in Europe, and Doncic is at that level…The one single skill particularly that I’m most impressed with – and this is the reason that he’s in the conversation to be a No. 1 pick – is just he’s a better passer than anything we’ve seen probably since Chris Paul came out of college…Even though he’s not the most athletic guy, I think that he’s got a future as an NBA point guard, because he’s 6-7, he has this brilliant passing ability and he has enough smarts and enough other skills to kind of build off of that.”

23:54-24:23: “He [Goran Dragic] is still really good. He’s still probably one of the top 15 point guards in the league, and I think that he showed that here. Just his ability to change directions attacking off the dribble, his defensive capabilities were really on display here, I think that he did a really good job passing and leading this [Slovenian] offense. He’s a good guy who’s been here a ton of times before and finally had the talent around him to be able to have this success.”

25:27-26:16: “The Gasols are probably going to be off the [Spanish] team in the next two to four years just due to their age. Pau’s probably going to retire. Marc will kind of start falling off probably in two to three years. So there’s a little bit of a worry about the top level for them, but at the same time, [Sergio] Llull is still a pretty solid player. You’re going to have Rubio. You’re going to have the Hernangomez brothers, who were fantastic in this tournament; both Juancho and Willy were both really good. Alex Abrines looks like he’s going to be a promising player. So I think that they’re in a good spot. France, I’m a little nervous about, just because a lot of their young talent are bigs, and they kind of are lacking in guard depth, particularly defensively.”

34:32-35:20: “He [Bogdan Bogdanovic] is a really good off-the-dribble creator, really good shooter, competes well defensively. I like to say he’s probably better than Buddy Hield at all the things that Buddy Hield is good at, and if Hield is kind of the guy for Sacramento going into the season in terms of their young development, Bogdanovic has potential to be maybe one of their best players. So I think he’s going to have maybe some Rookie of the Year chances. [Milos] Teodosic, I think he’s going to help kind of create some continuity in LA, [where] they’re breaking in a lot of new players and just his play style compared to Chris Paul on offense. He plays in a similar way where he’s so hyperfocused on orchestrating things and setting the table for his teammates. Defensively, he’s going to be a train wreck.”

*For those interested, here’s Trevor’s thorough EuroBasket wrap-up piece for The Step Back.


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