ESPN’s first 2018 NBA mock draft has the Suns taking Luka Doncic

Aug 15, 2017, 7:45 PM | Updated: Aug 16, 2017, 10:09 am
CSKA Moscow's James Augustine, right, defends against Real Madrid's Luka Doncic during their Final ...
CSKA Moscow's James Augustine, right, defends against Real Madrid's Luka Doncic during their Final Four Euroleague third place basketball match at Sinan Erdem Dome in Istanbul, Sunday, May 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

When potential No. 1 overall pick Marvin Bagley III committed to Duke and announced his plans for reclassification Monday, it altered — likely for good — the list of top players who will be eligible to enter the NBA Draft next summer.

With that, ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony on Tuesday released his first 2018 NBA mock draft, and there he has the Phoenix Suns selecting Slovenian guard Luka Doncic fourth overall.

Phoenix earned the fourth pick in this exercise due to ESPN’s Summer Forecast that predicts the Suns will finish with the fourth-worst record in the NBA next season behind the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets (Boston gets the pick) and Atlanta Hawks.

The 18-year-old Doncic is already producing at the highest level of European basketball. This past season, the 6-foot-7 swingman averaged 7.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.7 assists playing 20 minutes per game in a combined 32 games of Spanish ACB League play and 35 Euroleague outings for Real Madrid.

Doncic posted historic numbers in the Euroleague, Spanish ACB for a 17-year old, thanks to an incredibly high basketball IQ and polished skill set that allows him to play both backcourt positions. He will now be asked to take his game to the next level, as he’s finally NBA draft-eligible, which won’t be an easy task. Scouts wonder if he’s athletic enough to guard his position and create his own shot quite as seamlessly in the NBA as he does in Europe.

How Doncic’s defensive question marks fit with the Suns, who have Devin Booker and Josh Jackson on the wing, would be cause for concern, but there’s less wonder if he could fit in seamlessly with both players as a spot-up shooter and high-level playmaker.

Doncic is the only guard prospect among the top-tier crop of talents expected to enter the 2018 draft. No other guard appears in Givony’s early mock until Duke freshman point guard Trevon Duval is off the board at No. 11.

Doncic is among the handful of prospects who could play their way into consideration for the No. 1 selection in next year’s draft.

Givony has the Bulls taking Missouri freshman forward Michael Porter first, the Celtics plucking Bagley off the board second and the Hawks selecting Arizona freshman center DeAndre Ayton third.

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