Slovenian, 19, Basketball
Europe’s best player headed for NBA transcendence
Representatives: Bill Duffy, BDA Sports International
Key partners: Nike
Luka Dončić was the best player in the 2018 National Basketball Association (NBA) Draft. He got lucky when perennial losers Phoenix and Sacramento both passed on him, allowing the Dallas Mavericks to trade up for the bookies’ favourite for next season’s rookie of the year.
Now learning at the elbow of Dirk Nowitzki – arguably the best European import to ever play in the NBA – Dončić has given a shot in the arm to a franchise that was in danger of becoming stagnant. The 19-year-old arrives in Texas as a ready-made star from his time in Europe: he signed with Euroleague giants Real Madrid aged 13; by 18 he was league champion and MVP. On the international stage, a EuroBasket gold medal with his homeland of Slovenia came a year earlier at 17.
Having landed in a major market, Dončić’s success in Europe and lack of existing endorsements mean he is ripe for marketers. As ever with a rookie, his appeal is all potential but a big first season could open plenty of doors. TB