Luka and Trae will be compared to each other for most of their careers. Any time there is a draft-night trade like that, people will try to assess who “won the draft.” I believe Luka is such a good player Dallas will never regret trading with Atlanta, as good as Trae and whoever they draft with the Dallas pick is.
But let’s make one thing clear. If anyone lost that draft, it isn’t Atlanta. Phoenix and Sacramento did. Ayton and Bagley are good players, but nowhere near Luka’s level. What makes it fascinating is both teams had an advantage most teams don’t. They had people with excellent knowledge of that part of Europe.
The Suns had just hired Igor Kokoškov as their coach. He flew to Phoenix as the Slovenian national team coach after winning the gold with Luka at the helm. Kokoškov tried to tell people in Phoenix Luka is their guy, but they opted for Ayton.
Sacramento has Vlade Divac, a legend of European basketball, and even more so ex-Yugoslavian basketball scene. You’d think knowing about Luka more than any other NBA GM would be an advantage, but it may turn out it wasn’t so. Here what Tim MacMahon said on The Woj Pod:
“Vlade, as close as his was to Luka, he being so close to Luka and knowing his dad so well, factored into their decision. Basically, he didn’t think a whole lot of Luka’s dad, and the whole like father like son … wellTim MacMahon
….I don’t …. no, this is a different dude. You messed that one up, Vlade.”
Even if there is something to be worried about with Saša Dončić, he’s not such a significant factor in Luka’s life and career. His mom is the one that’s been with him every step of the way.
If the story is true, another example of Vlade’s “unorthodox” reasoning that didn’t pan out for the Kings.