Mark Cuban claims Luka Doncic was first player on Mavs' draft board


Luka Doncic is only 19 years old, but he’s also one of the most decorated European players to ever enter the NBA.

The dynamic talent won the Euroleague MVP while serving as the go-to offensive player for powerhouse Real Madrid en route to a championship last month.

After the Phoenix Suns took Deandre Ayton with the first pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and the Sacramento Kings went with Marvin Bagley III at No. 2, Doncic was still available, though.

He ended up hearing his name called at No. 3 to the Atlanta Hawks. While the Hawks could have held onto him to fill a need of their own, they decided to trade him to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Trae Young (the fifth overall pick) and a 2019 first-rounder.

That move was indicative of just how highly the Mavs regarded Doncic.

After all, Young was the first player in NCAA Division I history to lead the country in both points per game and assists per game during his freshman campaign at the University of Oklahoma.

Trading him and a future first-rounder meant that Doncic was well above Young on Dallas’ draft board.

Recently, Mavs owner Mark Cuban confirmed that.

2018 NBA Draft

Top of the board

"He was the top player on our board," Cuban told Tim MacMahon of ESPN. "It wasn't even close.”

"The logic is, if you think he's a game-changing player for you, a franchise-changing player, you don't care about your next pick," Cuban said. "You just want that player.”

After adding Doncic via the draft and then three-time All-NBA center DeAndre Jordan via free agency, the Mavs will most likely drastically improve over their 24-58 record in 2017-2018.

With Dennis Smith Jr., Wesley Matthews, Dirk Nowitzki, Harrison Barnes, Dwight Powell, JJ Barea, Doncic and Jordan all in line for substantial minutes under coach Rick Carlisle, Dallas could even sneak into the playoffs with their much-improved core.

Of course no NBA rookie is perfect. Doncic’s athleticism has been questioned over the past few months, but Cuban downplayed those concerns and cited the fact that the teenager has never worked out in a professional strength and conditioning program before. Therefore, working with Mavs athletic performance director Jeremy Holsopple will help the youngster a great deal.


"He's just got to get stronger and a little bit more physical for our game, but he's got all the opportunities right in front of him to be amazing," Cuban said. "People talk about his athleticism. He hasn't really worked on his athleticism ever. Most 17-, 18-year-old kids don't. It's when they get into the pros or particularly the NBA. I think with Jeremy working with him, he's going to improve. It's already good.”

Overall, Cuban and the Mavs are ecstatic that they were able to land a player of Doncic’s caliber.

2018 JBL Three-Point Contest

"I don't want to put too much pressure on the kid, but we're excited that we got him,” Cuban admitted.

Although it’s unclear what kind of role he will immediately play in Dallas, it appears as though the Mavericks got exactly who they wanted.

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