Suns Squared: Luka Doncic could be a Suns diamond

MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 25: Luka Doncic,
MADRID, SPAIN - JANUARY 25: Luka Doncic, /

In a draft class filled with many talented big men but a little thinner on guards, Luka Doncic could be the diamond in the rough the Phoenix Suns are looking for.

Doncic jumps off the screen as an unbelievable gem. At 6’6″, Doncic boasts wing size, while rebounding like a forward, passing like a seasoned floor general and dominating seasoned pros in Europe’s top league.

However, European prospects who make their professional sojourn to the NBA, have been up and down, for every Kristaps Porzingis, there has been a Darko Milicic. Will Doncic be the next European transplant to take the NBA by storm, or will he be bounced out of the league? His stats can provide a look into which is more likely.

Phoenix Suns
Phoenix Suns /

Phoenix Suns

Doncic’s per game stats are depressed by the light minute load he is playing in Europe. But although he is only playing around 25 minutes per game, he is still putting up 15.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game along with a steal and getting to the charity stripe 5 times per game. Doncic’s per 36-minutes numbers are more like what we expect from top-tier NBA players. Doncic is putting up 23 points, 8 rebounds and almost 7 assists per-36, to go along with 1.5 steals.

Doncic’s advanced numbers are just as impressive. His 20.8% defensive rebound rate would rank fourth in the NBA among guards, falling behind only Russell Westbrook, Dejounte Murray, and Lance Stephenson. His PER of 25.69 would rank near the top of the NBA as well. His 32.2% Assist rate would place him 10th in the NBA among guards. However, his TO rate being only 13.2% is better than all but three of the top ten assisters in the league (Chris Paul, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Dennis Schroder) so the combined numbers favor Doncic.

Doncic’s game is a change of pace style which is similar to many European guards. Doncic changes pace and uses hesitation at the right times to spring loose and great good shots from himself and teammates. Doncic’s depressed shooting from 3 is troubling, but many of these shots are in situations where he has to take a difficult step back in order to get his shot off.

Doncic’s athleticism is questionable as well and it presents the issues of how will he do against elite NBA athletes. It is hard to tell if he will be able to consistently create separation and shots for himself. Also, this athleticism could make him a liability on the defensive end in the NBA.

Next: Suns Squared: Trae Young

I like Doncic and see his floor as being Hedo Turkoglu-esque. Doncic can be a creator that mixes Turkoglu’s and Ginobili’s games. Hedo averaged 11.1 points on 38% 3-point shooting over 15 seasons in the league and might of missed his window as he would have been much more effective in the modern NBA. Doncic is crafty like Manu and has the size and versatility of Hedo. Doncic could pair with Devin Booker and share ball-handling and playmaking duties and allow the Suns to experiment with the 3rd guard role. They could play T.J. Warren or Josh Jackson in order to have an off-ball scorer on the floor or they could match a traditional PG with the Booker-Doncic pairing and let Booker play completely off ball for stretches. Doncic’s versatility and experience in a pro league, playing against grown men are his top selling points.

Doncic is also younger (19) than most in his draft class and has plenty of room to grow.