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GM Donnie Nelson knew Luka Doncic would be best player in 2018 NBA Draft

Luka Doncic, Mavs

Luka Doncic has developed into a bona fide star since breaking into the league last season, but one man had the vision to scope him out of the bunch before trading up to get him. Dallas Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson envisioned Doncic as the best player in the draft well before the Mavs traded Trae Young to the Atlanta Hawks in a pivotal draft-night swap.

“Donnie told me flat out he was going to be the best in that draft, and it wasn’t close,” said Mavs head coach Rick Carlisle, according to Mike Mazzeo of Yahoo Sports. “That’s how he felt about it. We’re thrilled that we’ve had the chance to get him to Dallas and work with him. He’s worked hard. Each week he’s gotten better and better and better and going forward, I’m watching his workload closely, his minutes, those kinds of things. It’s important that we look out for him, too.”

Doncic has not only impressed with his maturity during his rookie season, but also vastly improved upon the first 11 games of the season, putting up near-triple-double numbers with relative ease.

“He’s a great player. One of the best players on the planet,” Carlisle said of Doncic. “I don’t know how many times you’re going to need me to say that.”

Nelson’s keen eye for international talent could wind up being a massive difference-maker, as the heir to Dirk Nowitzki could very well replace him as the best European-born star to ever play in the NBA.