Five years ago, the Dallas Mavericks selected Luka Doncic in the first round of the 2018 NBA Draft. Although Dallas went into the draft with the fifth overall selection, the Mavs traded the fifth pick, plus a 2019 first-rounder to acquire the 19-year-old Slovenian guard with the Atlanta Hawks' third overall selection.
Upon entering the 2016 season, the Mavs organization had been a pinnacle of success. Since 2000, the Dallas franchise never finished with a record below .500. However, in the 2016-17 season, things started to go south.
The Mavericks had relied upon Dirk Nowitizki's prowess since the early 2000s, but Nowitzki was clearly on the decline in 2016. The 38-year-old big man only appeared in 54 games and averaged 14.2 points per game, the lowest mark since his rookie season.
Redrafting the 2018 NBA Draft: Who do Mavericks select after Luka Doncic goes No. 1?
In 2017, the Mavs selected guard Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth overall selection, their lowest draft spot since 1999. The Mavs spent the 2017-18 season relying on the rookie, Smith Jr., and an uninspiring squadron of vets. Coincidentally, the Mavs finished with the third-worst record in the association.
Heading into the 2018 NBA Draft, Dallas was in desperate need of a franchise-altering talent and made the right decision in drafting the now, four-time All-Star, Doncic.
But, what would a scenario look like if Doncic was drafted first overall? How would Dallas and the rest of the lottery teams change course?
With every prospect from the 2018 NBA Draft now with at most, five seasons, under their belts, let's reexamine how the draft would have gone, knowing what we know now. Rather than redrafting for need, we'll essentially rank the prospects on their current talent level and decipher where they would have gotten picked in the 2018 NBA Draft lottery.
1. Phoneix Suns select Luka Doncic
Original draft position: 3
Previously, it was mentioned that team needs would be thrown out. However, even if team needs were taken into account, Doncic would go first.
Doncic just came off averaging 16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists per game en route to winning the EuroLeague MVP at 19 years of age. In doing so, Doncic was the youngest EuroLeague MVP since the league's inception.
How could any team pass up on such a sure deal? After scouring through many 2018 mock drafts and scouting reports, the question still persists. Numerous mock drafts allotted Doncic at three or even four but didn't provide many knocks on Doncic as a prospect.
The unanimous top two prospects, Deandre Ayton and Marvin Bagley III, were both praised for their athletic gifts and offensive upside, yet most mock drafts and scouting reports alluded to two the big men having "untapped potential" and a lack of defensive polish.
Sure, Doncic was knocked for a lack of foot speed and inadequate defense, which has followed him into the NBA. But, Doncic was the consensus, most "pro-ready" prospect in the draft and still was surpassed by two, technically three teams.
Overanalyzing may have led to Doncic's slight drop. He was the unanimous best prospect, but everyone in NBA circles knew this. And, they had known this for quite some time as Doncic initially popped up on the NBA radar in 2014.
Fast forward to 2023, and Doncic is a top-5 player in the NBA. He is a 4-time All-Star, 4-time All-NBA teamer, and holds career averages of 27.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.0 assists at 24 years old.
The Mavericks guard is an elite scorer in isolation. He easily gets to the rim, shoots step-back threes from 30 feet out, and has the passing vision in the NBA.
Doncic is simply the best player in the class of 2018. If anyone were to say that Doncic will be a future multi-time MVP winner or NBA Champion, no one would bat an eye.