Mavs star Luka Doncic thought the Kings would pick him after Real Madrid visit
Prior to the 2018 NBA Draft, Luka Doncic’s stock consistently rose as he made waves with Real Madrid in what would be his last season with the Spanish supergiant. The Sacramento Kings visited him in Madrid, even bringing in the owner, Vivek Ranadive, to witness his play. In retrospect, the Dallas Mavericks star thought he would be picked by the Kings, given how serious they appeared to be when courting him in the pre-draft process.
“They came to Madrid (to see him play for Real Madrid and to share a dinner on June 5, 2018),” the 20-year-old Doncic told Sam Amick of The Athletic about the Kings’ contingent’s visit during the draft process. “They came with the owner. Everybody came, so I honestly thought they were going to pick me.”
While it was never evidently clear why the Kings chose to go with Duke’s Marvin Bagley III over Doncic, the reigning Rookie of the Year and likely MVP candidate took a stab as to why.
“I mean, I think it’s because of Euroleague; it’s different basketball,” said Doncic. “I was averaging in Europe — in the Spanish League — like 12 points (per game). And in Euroleague 14 (points per game). So it’s different basketball.”
The proof was smack-dab in front of the Kings’ faces. Doncic was averaging 12 and 14 as an 18-year-old against grown men in important international competitions — a stage much bigger than the NCAA tournament, where most players play against people of the same relative age group.
Sacramento couldn’t have guessed the Doncic would more than double his scoring average in less than two years, but regardless of what their scouting trip yielded, that was a mistake that could bring them constant nightmares for the next two decades.