Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle wasn’t familiar with current Mavs young superstar Luka Doncic before the 2018 draft.
As it turns out, Carlisle had only heard Doncic’s name at that time, as reported by Nick Friedell of ESPN:
“I had heard the name,” Carlisle said. “I had not seen him play. This was about a year before the 2018 draft. We were in a rebuild and there were obvious conversations about who was good in the draft, in the coming year. We weren’t projected to be good, so I just asked [Mavericks resident of basketball operations and general manager Donnie Nelson] a general question: ‘Who’s the best player coming out?’ And he said, ‘Doncic,’ and he said, ‘It’s not close.’ I said, ‘Wow.’ And we got into a little deeper conversation about it, he just said, ‘Look, he’s got the elements of some of the great international players of all time.’ Plus he’s an original. He’s very much an original player.
“And then we got to the draft that year and pretty much at the last second we had a chance to make the deal to move up, assuming he was at 3, and assuming Atlanta’s guy was at 5. So that worked out and it’s been a good deal for both teams.”
Indeed, the move to go for Doncic was the right one. The Slovenian star won Rookie of the Year award and, in his second season, he helped turn the Mavericks into a playoff team, also putting his name in MVP talks.
Doncic is averaging 28.9 points, 9.6 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game this season.