Luka Doncic Waves Bye To Ex-Kings GM Vlade Divac In Mavs’ Win: ‘He Shoulda Drafted Me’

After making a free throw with four seconds left to seal a 107-103 Mavericks victory over the Kings on Friday night, Luka Doncic was seen waving at former Sacramento general manager Vlade Divac, who was sitting courtside. Kyrie Irving had a game-high 30 points, while Doncic finished the night with 26 points, nine rebounds, 12 assists, and two steals.Luke Doncic

As the Mavs also just had a 36-point blowout win vs. the Kings in Dallas on Tuesday, Doncic has seemingly made an effort to remind fans in Sacramento what they missed out on by not drafting him six years ago.

Being that, the five-time All-Star was passed up in the 2018 draft by the Suns at No. 1 and the Kings at No. 2, before being selected third overall by the Hawks (then traded to the Mavs). At the end of Friay’s game, Doncic was seen repeatedly mouthing words to the crowd, “He [Divac] shoulda drafted me.”

So along with the ill feelings shown tonight, Doncic has evidently not forgotten about being passed up, as he also blew out the Suns in Game 7 of the 2022 Western Conference semifinal round of the playoffs, then scored 73 points against the Hawks earlier this season (1/26/24). That is to say, Doncic has seemingly taken it personally and kept a grudge since then. Many wonder what could have been if the Kings did in fact draft the 19-year-old Slovenian. 

Notably, the Kings opted to take Marvin Bagley III with the second overall pick in that draft. Bagley is still a decent role player, but his career averages of 13 points and seven rebounds are surely not on the same level as Doncic, a league MVP candidate. Did the Kings’ front office not draft Doncic because they truly thought they had the better pick or is there more to the story?

To make it even more interesting, there was a rumor that leaked out in 2019, that the organization passed on Doncic because the GM, Divac, disliked his father, Sasa Doncic. This sheds more light on why Doncic was taunting the former NBA player/executive during Friday’s game, but the reason for not drafting seemingly the best player in the draft because of the player’s parent, seems rather petty. 

ESPN reporter Tim MacMahon was on The Woj Pod a while back insinuating that general manager Divac’s opinions of Doncic’s dad really did play a role in the team’s draft selection,

“My understanding is that [Divac] being so close to Luka and knowing his dad so well factored into their decision,” MacMahon said. “Basically, he didn’t think a whole lot of Luka’s dad, and the whole like father like son… Well, no, this is a different dude. You messed that one up, Vlade.”

Putting aside the drama, the case may just be that the Kings already had De’Aaron Fox on their roster from the previous year’s draft, so they didn’t want to add yet another ball-dominant guard to the backcourt.

Be that as it may, Doncic undoubtedly has proven himself as not only the best player from the 2018 draft class, but maybe the entire league, considering his age and career averages of 28.6 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 8.3 assists. To point out, Luka is the second-youngest player (behind LeBron James) in NBA history to record 10K points, 3K rebounds and 3K assists in their career, in addition to already being ranked ninth on the NBA’s all-time triple-double list, at only 25 years of age.

For one, thinking about what could have been if Doncic was drafted to Sacramento, the Kings’ roster would be totally different than it is now. Taking into consideration that All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton was drafted by the team with the 12th pick in the 2020 NBA draft, and then traded to the Pacers in exchange for big man Domantas Sabonis, who recorded his league-leading 26th triple-double this season after putting up 13 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in Friday’s game. 

Nevertheless, fans may always think about “what if?” Therefore, the superstar player, that your organization passed on, telling you that your team should have drafted him is certainly not a good feeling. Even more so considering they also just lost two times over a three-day period to the sixth-seeded Mavs (44-29), while the Kings are now two full games back (42-31) as the eighth seed in the West.

The Mavericks have now won 10 out of their last 11 games, only losing in the one game Luka did not play in, as he sat out with a sore hamstring in a loss vs. the Thunder. Luka has proven himself this year, as he continues to climb the MVP ladder, with nine games left in the season, he is in contention along with Nikola Jokic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jayson Tatum.

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