During the playoffs, Deandre Ayton, Trae Young, and Luka Doncic have led the way from the top, but with talent flowing all the way down, the 2018 Draft is fast becoming a once-in-a-generation collection of players poised to shape NBA history. Trae Young and DeAndre Ayton reach Conference Finals
It was never compared to 1984, 1996, or 2003, yet the way the 2018 NBA Draft unfolded has had a direct influence on this year’s playoffs and might define the league for the next ten years.
Slovenia’s Luka Doncic was the draft’s crown jewel in the first two years. Several US-based commentators missed the EuroLeague MVP and champion since he was a youngster winning in foreign competition, but those who had seen him play for Genuine Madrid realised that he was the real deal, out-duelling Europe’s weathered veterans and many former NBA players.
When he first entered the NBA, he proved those American analysts incorrect. Rookie of the Year in 2019 was just the beginning for him, as he went on to earn All-NBA First Team honours in 2020 and 2021, as well as earning an All-Star in those seasons.
As a sophomore, he led the Dallas Mavericks to the playoffs and shown throughout the postseason that he had the capacity to win games by himself against the Los Angeles Clippers, despite the fact that his team ultimately lost in six games.
This year, the Mavericks gained in the standings but succumbed to the same Clippers squad in the playoffs, despite Doncic humiliating them in the first two games.
Following The Athletic’s Tim Cato’s revelation of a number of behind-the-scenes issues with the Mavericks front office, long-time general manager Donnie Nelson was fired, head coach Rick Carlisle stepped down, and rumours surfaced that the team was looking to trade Kristaps Porzingis to provide Doncic with a second star.
Meanwhile, Trae Young, the player he was traded for on draught night, and Deandre Ayton, the number one selection in 2018, are still playing and their teams are flourishing with them at the heart. They have advanced to the Conference Finals and have a decent probability of meeting in the NBA Finals.
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