Luka Dončić’s unprecedented rise to the NBA stardom caught everyone by surprise. Not even the biggest Luka believers – Dino Rađa included – thought he would become this good, this early into his NBA career.
He showed a lot of maturity at a very early age, but I didn’t expect him to be as good in his first year. I thought he needed one more year in Europe to mature, more as a person than a basketball player.Dino Rađa, 1-ON-1 with Basketball Network
Dino’s concerns about Luka’s transition into the NBA weren’t based on him not being athletic enough, nor did they derive from diminishing a dominance Dončić displayed as a teen playing overseas. He simply questioned his maturity – something Rađa thinks is undervalued in the NBA these days.
According to the Hall-of-Famer, most guys at that age aren’t mentally ready to be leaders, which is what teams expect from them coming into the league. But Luka was. From day one, he conducted himself in a manner atypical for a 19-year-old coming from Europe. He showed no fear on the court and wasted no time imposing himself as the leader in the Mavericks locker room. It was all about Dončić, without him making it about himself, and that’s the level of maturity some NBA stars are never able to reach.
In terms of comparing Dončić to a player from his era, Dino went with a European legend who is far from your household basketball name but had a similar skillset to Luka’s and showcased the same fearless approach no matter the opposition.
He reminds me a lot of Bodiroga. A little bigger, but a guy with huge balls and huge basketball talent.
If you’ve never watched Bodiroga play, go check it out, and you’ll see what Rađa is talking about. Unfortunately, Dejan never took his talents across the Atlantic. But thankfully, Luka did. And a little over two years into his run the league, there’s no doubt in Dino’s mind — we’re witnessing an all-time great in the making.