Luka Doncic’s genius has managed to make a great NBA rookie class look average


The 2018 draft-class may well end up being one of the greatest in history. But they risk being eclipsed by the Slovenian teenager

Poor Marvin Bagley. The bouncy one-and-done Duke big man went second overall in the 2018 NBA draft and so far he is having what is, by any reasonable standard, an excellent rookie season, even though he plays for the Sacramento Kings, which is hardly his fault. Bagley is not an excellent NBA player right now; in fact, by most metrics, he’s kind of a bad NBA player. But most rookies, even the really good ones, are bad players. And just 20 games into his career, Bagley is pouring in points and grabbing rebounds at the same ferocious clip he did at Duke – 12.9 and 6.2 in just under 24 minutes per game – and he’s doing it despite taking several thousand fewer shots than Trae Young.

In almost any other season, Bagley’s nifty stats plus his arrival coinciding with the Kings’ revival would be enough to anoint him an early rookie of the year candidate. If he’d come out of college two years ago, when Malcolm Brogdon won the award because Ben Simmons was injured and the rest of the 2016 draft class was trash, it would be Bagley’s name on that trophy and not Brogdon’s.

This year, though, Bagley has no chance. In fact, there’s a very good chance he will not sniff the top five. His only mistake was being born into a draft class so good he doesn’t stand out. It is too early to declare the 2018 draft class the best ever, or one of the best ever, but it’s time to start the conversation because, hot damn, what a group.

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