Possible first-overall draft pick Luka Dončić, who’s been playing in Spain with Real Madrid since he was 16, is already the kind of all-around athletic beast who appears to be the final form that every basketball player is evolving towards. He’s a six-foot-eight guard/forward hybrid who’s comfortable shooting on the perimeter, dishes eye-catching passes, and humiliates lesser foes with his handles.
Dončić showed it all today in a Spanish league game against Real Betis, in which he put up a triple double in just 22 minutes, including 17 points on just four flawless attempts.
That’s an extremely impressive statline in itself, but it’s even more striking when adjusted for the standards of his continent. As Antonis Stroggylakis of Euro Hoops notes, triple-doubles are much, much rarer beasts over in Europe, on account of 40-minute games, slower tempos, and statisticians who are stingier with assists. Dončić’s triple double is the first in Spain since a former Orlando Magic draft pick named Fran Vasquez got 12 blocks, 11 points, and 10 boards for Barcelona all the way back in 2007.
There’s, of course, the caveat from the other side that this isn’t a realistic simulation of an NBA defense that Dončić is destroying. And that’s true, even if the teen has faced down some of the best European national teams with his native Slovenia. Real Betis is still a last place team, while Real Madrid is the best in Spain. You see that especially on the gif at the top of this post, in which Dončić torments a very anxious defender who doesn’t appear to have any business guarding any kind of NBA lottery pick.
But that doesn’t invalidate all his cool plays. For example, no weak-sauce opponent can change the fact that this pass is gorg.
And as we come up on the short breather between the second round and the conference finals in the NBA playoffs, it’s worth dreaming about what comes next. Especially if you’re a fan of one of the teams in the lottery, it’s perfectly acceptable to go wild and imagine Dončić as some sort of basketball super-soldier. Anyway, it’s not like Dončić has ever given us any reason to doubt him.