Sat, Jun 23, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Mavs look to Europe for next star as draft begins


The Phoenix Suns stayed close to home for their first No. 1 pick, while the Dallas Mavericks looked all the way to Slovenia for the player they hope can be their next European superstar.

Shortly after the Suns took Deandre Ayton to start the NBA draft on Thursday night, the Mavericks traded up two spots for the rights to Luka Doncic.

The Atlanta Hawks swapped the rights to Doncic, the No. 3 pick who has spent the last year winning championships all over Europe, to Atlanta for Trae Young, the No. 5 selection from Oklahoma.

The Mavericks also gave up a future first-round pick to draft Doncic.

His lengthy European season kept him from working out for teams, but he knew the Mavericks were interested in having him on their team for what is expected to be Dirk Nowitzki’s final season.

“I’ve been talking to Dallas a lot. They really wanted me and they were very, very nice,” the 19-year-old said.

The Hawks are to get perhaps the most exciting player in college basketball last season in Young, the first player to lead the nation in scoring and assists in the same season.

Otherwise, the top of the draft was dominated by big men, starting with a pair of former high-school teammates.

The Suns made the 216cm Ayton the first No. 1 pick in franchise history. The center from Arizona averaged 20.1 points and 11.6 rebounds in his lone season in Tucson, tying for the national lead with 24 double-doubles in 35 games.

The Sacramento Kings followed by taking Marvin Bagley III, the big Duke man who played with Ayton at Hillcrest Prep Academy in Phoenix in 2015-2016.

Then it was another guard with Alabama’s Collin Sexton going at No. 8 to Cleveland, triggering chants of Michael Porter Jr’s name by Knicks fans who hoped they would take him with the No. 9 pick, but they ended up disappointed as New York went with Kentucky’s Kevin Knox.

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