Before the solo 11-0 run, before the rumblings of jaw-dropping pickup games in Dallas, and even before the draft hype peaked and turned into doubt, Goran Dragic was comparing Luka Doncic to James Harden.
"[Doncic has] a great instinct to be a point guard, but there's the quickness factor," Dragic told ESPN at the 2017 EuroBasket. "I think position 2, he can play that. Like Harden."
Dragic's reasons for the comp between his then-18-year-old Slovenian teammate and the upcoming NBA MVP: a unique form of athleticism combined with positional size, skill and craft.
"Maybe because of his size he looks slow, but [Doncic] is not slow," Dragic said. "OK, he's not super quick, but he has that first step that if he gets the angle on you, it's really tough to defend him. He really uses his body well."
And 14 months later, Dragic is beginning to look prophetic. Doncic has thrived in a more open NBA. He has looked Harden-esque with his highlights, torching opponents with the same step-back move that left EuroLeague defenders wobbly a season ago.
After lingering questions about his traditional athleticism heading into the draft, how exactly has Doncic been able to turn so many initial naysayers into die-hard fans? And can he evolve to eventually become an NBA MVP like Harden did?