Pau Gasol gives European prospect Luka Doncic a big thumbs up

SHARE Pau Gasol gives European prospect Luka Doncic a big thumbs up
SHARE Pau Gasol gives European prospect Luka Doncic a big thumbs up

Spurs forward Pau Gasol is all in on Slovenia star Luka Doncic. Come the NBA draft in June, the Bulls just might be, too.

‘‘He’s a very, very talented player,’’ Gasol said Saturday of Doncic. ‘‘It’s really rare how well this guy plays at his age [18]. He just continues to grow. It’s the right path. You see a guy who has done really well so far and is an exceptional young player, with great size, great fundamentals, great composure, great poise to his game for his age — for any age, for that matter.

‘‘A lot of people think he should be projected No. 1 [in the draft]. When people have asked me that, I say I don’t know the other prospects. I just know he’s a unique player. He will be in the mix for one of the higher picks.’’

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The 6-8 Doncic, who has played for the Spanish team Real Madrid since he was 15, has emerged as a top-flight prospect in the last year. The exclamation point came at the European Basketball Championship during the summer.

‘‘There’s nothing he can’t do,’’ Bulls forward Paul Zipser said. ‘‘When I first saw him, I think he was, like, 15, playing well for Real Madrid. I was, like, ‘Oh.’

‘‘I think Luka has it all. He plays the right way. He can shoot. He’s athletic. He’s got ballhandling [and] size. He can defend. So, yeah, he has all the tools.’’

The Bulls are scheduled to scout Doncic in Europe several times this season. He and Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. are expected to headline the 2018 draft class.

The major question about Doncic will be whether his skills will translate to the NBA game.

‘‘People here will get to see it soon,’’ Zipser said. ‘‘He’s going to be one of the better ones.’’

More Portis

Forward Bobby Portis, who is two games into the eight-game suspension he was handed for punching teammate Nikola Mirotic, was asked if he was concerned that opposing players might try to goad him into another confrontation when he returns.

‘‘No, I’m not worried that opponents might try to goad me,’’ Portis said. ‘‘I’m a competitor at the end of the day, and I’m going to let my play do the talking.’’

Portis will continue practicing with the team while he is suspended.

Getting closer?

Guard Kris Dunn continues to ramp up his activity, and the Bulls hope he will be back in the rotation by next week. Dunn suffered an open dislocation of his left index finger during the preseason but has been practicing with his teammates for the last few days.

‘‘Yeah, he’s still really sore on that finger, especially after he has activity,’’ coach Fred Hoiberg said. ‘‘He gets a throbbing sensation in that hand. He’s increasing his workload, though, and that’s the key at this point. We hope to get him back here soon.’’

Follow me on Twitter @suntimes_hoops.

Email: jcowley@suntimes.com


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