Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic

Luka Doncic is a Slovenian basketball player (Ljubljana) who plays point guard for the Dallas Mavericks of the NBA. The playmaker formed in the youth categories of Real Madrid was born on February 28, 1999 in Ljubljana. Despite growing up in a family where basketball has always been very present, Luka Doncic began practicing judo and soccer at the Miran Jarc elementary school in his hometown. However, he soon discovered his true vocation, basketball; a hobby he shares with his father, Sasa Doncic, a former basketball player with Serbian roots who even wore the jersey of the Slovenian national team. His mother, Mirjiam Poterbin, was also closely linked to the world of sports, as she worked as a model and as a sports dancer. She was also a world champion with the professional dance group Urska.

Luka Doncic started playing basketball at the age of six in his hometown of Ljubljana. However, he was quickly noticed by the major basketball youth teams. His beginnings took place at Košarkarski klub Union Olimpija, where he became one of the biggest basketball projects on the continent. His brilliant performances in the Slovenian team, even reaching 41 points, made big European teams interested in acquiring his services. His numbers continued to attract the attention of the old rockers of the European continent and, finally and thanks to the MVP achieved in a tournament in Italian territory in which Doncic went as far as the triple double, the now Dallas Mavericks player joined Real Madrid Basketball in 2012, an institution in which he emerged as a true promise and a star project for the NBA.

A precocious genius

His arrival at Real Madrid at just 13 years old ratified his precociousness and youth, as few players land in one of the most laureate teams in the European -and even world- basketball scene in such a way, achieving stratospheric figures and being the main protagonist of what is currently considered as a meteoric and unprecedented rise. Luka Doncic came to the training categories of the Merengue team after agreeing a five-year contract; something that in the long run was a success for both parties, since the Slovenian playmaker was a key player in the best junior generation in the Spanish capital in recent memory.

His first years defending the colors of the white squad were outstanding. The Slovenian point guard won the Children’s Tournament played in Hospitalet and scored 39 points and 10 rebounds against Basquet Manresa, 26 points, nine rebounds, seven steals and five assists against Penya and 25 points, thirteen rebounds and five assists in the final. His personal numbers earned him the individual MVP award of the tournament.

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One season later, a still young Luka Doncic played the Minicopa Endesa (2013) in Vitoria-Gasteiz. In the Basque capital, the genius from Ljubljana harvested averages of 24.3 points, 12 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 6.3 steals and an average rating of 40.3; unprecedented scoring figures in the Endesa League and in Real Madrid Basketball, which found in the young Doncic an advanced student. His success and the game he played elevated the Slovenian as the MVP of the national tournament. His following seasons defending the colors of the Merengue team confirmed that he is a special player, suitable and valid to stand out in elite basketball; his good performances with the cadet or junior team served as a guarantee and Pablo Laso did not lose track of him.

In the EBA League, the Slovenian point guard was a true leader with averages of 14.4 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game. Luka Doncic accumulated wins, excellent performances and the big NBA franchises began to follow his trail, fully aware that the Ljubljana native’s time on Spanish soil was about to run out.

European challenges

Basketball cannot be understood without a European competition that motivates and gives extra confidence. And that is how Luka Doncic experienced his first Euroleague Basketball Next Generation (Euroleague Junior) with the white jersey. An extra-motivated Slovenian genius led Real Madrid Basketball to lift this European tournament, something that ultimately meant a before and after in a short and brief career until that moment. Luka Doncic stood out, shone and blurred the defenses of all his rivals. The Real Madrid-trained player also won the MVP after his sensational appearances, for example, against Red Star in a final in which he gave no option to Belgrade.

Likewise, it was not just any title, as Los Blancos won the Junior Euroleague in front of all their fans, which turned a European title into an infinite dose of morale and confidence that will always be remembered by each and every one of the protagonists who orchestrated the victory, as Los Blancos did not start as favorites.

The emergence of Luka Doncic

With his stage in the different youth categories concluded, came the journey that would completely mark the life and professional career of Luka Doncic, who continued to break records and make history in Real Madrid Basketball. The player born in Ljubljana on February 28, 1999 made his debut with the Whites on April 30, 2015 against Unicaja Malaga. His first appearance with the squad led by Pablo Laso will always be remembered for the triple that the Slovenian made. In addition, he became the youngest player to wear Real Madrid ‘s colors for the first time in the domestic competition at the age of 16 years and two months.

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His inclusion in the first team of the Spanish capital was progressive and gradual, as Pablo Laso was prudent and patient with one of the emerging promises with the greatest future in basketball. Luka Doncic played, that same season, some minutes against teams like Obradoiro. In 2015/2016 his participation in the first team of the Merengue squad was officially confirmed. His progression and, again, his good performances served for Real Madrid to continue to dominate at the level of play and titles an ACB that had a new genius tanned in Ljubljana.

The European continent was also a luxury spectator of the Slovenian’s exhibitions, as he made history by becoming the youngest player to win the MVP of the day with 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals, reaching 25 credits in 19 minutes played. His stellar appearances were many; however, the pinnacle came with the achievement of the Euroleague (17/18) defending the colors of Real Madrid. In that year, Luka Doncic won numerous individual awards that raised his aspirations for future NBA Drafts.

“Looking at NCAA projections, Dončić is making merit to be number one in the draft. It’s very easy to fall in love with his ball handling, his creativity, his ability to play all three open positions and the confidence he has being so young,” said Jonathan Givony, journalist and scouting for Draft Express NBA.

He’s a player with a lot of potential to be a top-5 pick in the NBA Draft.

The different NBA franchises persisted in observing the performances of one of the most transcendent players of his generation and the great scouts of those teams did not hesitate to publicly express their intentions to bet on the Slovenian and to acquire his services, considering him a future star of the best league in the world.

That same season, Doncic managed to continue breaking records, such as achieving a triple-double (17 points, ten rebounds and ten assists) or achieving, once again, the MVP of a domestic competition that Pablo Laso’s Real Madrid lifted again. His numbers in his last season wearing the colors of the Merengue team served as a guarantee for the Slovenian to take the final step and present himself as eligible for the Draft.

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Mavs bet on Slovenian talent

With his time at Real Madrid Basketball finished, Luka Doncic was selected by the Hawks as the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. However, the Atlanta franchise traded the young Slovenian genius to the Dallas Mavericks. The deal went through and Doncic ended up with the Mavs. Subsidiarilym Trae Young set course for the Atlanta Hawks after an agreement reached by both franchises. On July 9, 2018, he signed his first professional contract with an NBA team.

His projection continued to amaze and it is unknown where the Slovenian’s ceiling is. He soon emerged as the leader of a Dallas Mavericks unable to pronounce Dirk Nowitzki’s final goodbye. On June 24, 2019, he was awarded the Rookie of the Year premiere; an award that served for the Slovenian to finish winning the favor of a demanding fan base. He became the first Slovenian player and the second European, just behind Pau Gasol, to win the award.

A few weeks ago, the Slovenian point guard trained in the youth categories of Real Madrid became the player with the most triple-doubles in the history of the Mavs, surpassing Jason Kidd. As far as individual awards are concerned, the Ljubljana native was nominated by the Euroleague to be part of the Best Five in the history of the European competition par excellence. This nomination speaks volumes about the memories the Slovenian left during his time on the European continent.

Luka Doncic has not only become one of the benchmarks of the Dallas Mavericks, but also guided his national team, the Slovenian national basketball team, to the achievement of the Eurobasket achieved by Radovan Trifunović’s wards in 2017 against Serbia (93-85). In the final of that tournament, Doncic and Goran Dragic were responsible for orchestrating the Slovenian triumph.

In the 19/20 season, the player formed in Real Madrid has a luxury partner, Kristaps Porziņģis, who landed in the ranks of the Dallas Mavericks a few months ago. In this way, Luka Doncic remains as the leader of a project whose base is based on the talent and quality of the Ljubljana native. With new challenges on the horizon, the Mavs have found in Doncic a player destined to succeed and lead every team he plays for.

Biography by Javi García.