Luka Doncic arrived in the NBA via the 2018 draft. Doncic was the third overall pick in that class by the Atlanta Hawks, but in one of the most important draft-day deals in recent memory, he was traded to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for Trae Young and a future first-round pick.
Luka immediately took the league by storm and became one of the NBA’s best players at the tender age of 19.
But how old was Doncic when he started playing professional basketball?
Luka Doncic instantly became an NBA superstar
The Slovenian was named the 2018-19 Rookie of the Year after posting a stat line of 21.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 1.1 steals per game.
There were questions about Doncic’s athletic ability heading into the draft, but he proved his high basketball IQ was enough to carry him through. El Matador is able to use his 6-foot-7, 230-pound frame to body up defenders and find angles to the rim.
His outside shot is coming along as well as he drained 35.0% of his 8.3 3-point attempts per game in 2020-21.
Swaggy L has already made two all-star teams and two All-NBA teams while carrying Dallas to the playoffs two of his first three seasons in the league.
Doncic was barely 16 years old when he turned pro
The oversized point guard was already a European legend before he arrived in the NBA.
According to NBA.com, Doncic signed his first pro contract at age 13 with Spanish giant Real Madrid. He played for the U16 team that year and was named the MVP of the Spain Championships. Again, at age 13.
He then moved up Real Madrid’s U18 team and won another MVP as he led his team to a championship at the U18 Next Generation Tournament.
At 16 years, two months, and two days, Luka made his professional debut, becoming the youngest player ever to take the floor for Madrid. He played in 51 games that year and then started 26 of 77 contests the next season as a 17-year-old.
Doncic blew up the following season as he led his team to a EuroLeague Championship, averaging 16.0 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 4.3 assists over 33 games.
At age 18, he was named the Euroleague Final Four MVP and EuroLeague MVP, becoming the youngest player ever to win the award.
Cool Hand Luka is on pace to become one of the greatest NBA players of all time
The awards Doncic has racked up in his first three seasons, before he’s even turned 23, put him on an all-time trajectory.
The Mavericks have yet to win a playoff series under Luka’s leadership, but it’s not for his lack of trying. He has averages of 33.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 9.5 assists, and 1.2 steals through two postseason appearances.
He’s also shown he has a knack for the big stage — he had an epic game-winning playoff three to beat the Kawhi Leonard–Paul George Los Angeles Clippers and has upped his shooting percentages across the board during the postseason with a slash line of 49.4/39.2/60.0.
He certainly has aspects of his game to improve, but it took almost no time at all for Luka to prove he’s one of the league’s generational superstars.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball-Reference.