We all wish we could’ve watched the top draft prospects perform in this year’s NCAA March Madness tournament, the Euroleague, CBA and NBL seasons. It’s the time of year where the best players make a name for themselves in front of NBA scouts. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that chance, but despite the Coronavirus shutting down sports for the time being, we got a good look at the top talents in basketball around the world going into the 2020 NBA Draft.
Some teams make their picks solely on positional need, targeting fit over talent, while others employ a best player available philosophy to draft a new face of the franchise. In this year’s draft, any team with a top 5 pick should do just that and build around the best player available. Whoever is blessed with the first overall pick, whether it’s the Golden State Warriors or the New York Knicks, should absolutely take this year’s top talent, Lamelo Ball.
Lamelo Ball opted to play overseas this past season in Australia for the Illawarra Hawks after the NCAA told him he may not be eligible to play in college because of his time in Lithuania. The 6’8 point guard averaged an impressive 17 points, 7 assists, and 7.5 rebounds in the NBL. He has shown the ability to make tough shots in the lane and shoot from a deep range all throughout his career so far. We can all remember how he went viral pointing the half court line to start a game and drilling the shot in the defender’s face. However, his best skillset is his ability to get everyone in the offense involved, while also being a good scorer.
Dating back to his days at Chino Hills, Lamelo Ball has been a tremendous passer. He has the court vision of NBA greats like Magic Johnson, and plays a similar style to his older brother, Lonzo. In fact, during his last year at Chino Hills, he averaged a whopping 26 ppg and 10 assists per game. At the Spire Institute, he averaged 21.8 points and 8.9 assists, and put on shows against tough schools like the IMG Academy. In today’s NBA, we see a lot shooting and fast paced play that would allow Ball to play to his full potential, since he used to that fast paced game that is similar to how his brother Lonzo plays in New Orleans, constantly connecting on lobs and a football passes in transition to last year first overall pick, Zion Williamson.
His unselfish play would make him an amazing pick for any team, as his future NBA teammates would love a guy that will make sure they get ball. Keep in mind Ball is only 18 years old, but plays like an NBA veteran. He sees plays before they even develop and that kind of IQ will translate well to the league.
Aside from the great passing and court vision, Lamelo Ball has definitely matured as he has progressed throughout his career. Ever since highschool he has played against players much older and bigger than him. In his freshman year at Chino Hills he averaged 16.7 points at only 6’0 feet tall and went on to win a state title with his brothers. Now, he’s 18, coming off a season in which he averaged 17 points, 7 assists and 7.5 rebounds, in one of the toughest leagues around the world.
If there is any doubt that he will be able to handle the rigors of the NBA at 18 years old, let me tell you he’s not only the most talented player, but one of the more mature and league ready players entering the draft.
So, what exactly could cause a team to not select such a talent? For starters, many GMs are concerned about the noises that surround him, aka his father, Lavar Ball. His dad is known to very outspoken, as we saw during Lonzo’s time with the Lakers, where he was very critical of head coach Luke Walton. He also made claims that it was Lonzo’s team, which ultimately led his oldest son to play with a target on his back. So, there is an expectation NBA vets can welcome Lamelo the same way Patrick Beverly welcomed Lonzo in his debut.
Another knock on Lamelo’s game is he has shown to be a liability defensively, but he certainly has the IQ and instincts to wreak havoc with steals in transition. Also, he has the height to meet players at the rim.
Despite the noise that surrounds him and the lackluster defense, there may not be another talent in this draft better than Lamelo Ball. He has already played with tough professionals and showed promise in Australia at the age of 18. His ball IQ, handling, and passing should be enough for a team to take him at number one with no hesitation.
I’m sure that any team that passes on Lamelo Ball will regret it for years to come.