LaMelo Ball has been in the public eye for years. Ever since he and his two older brothers, Lonzo and LiAngelo, went viral for their highlight plays at Chino Hills High School in California, LaMelo has had some lofty expectations placed upon him. Of course, Lonzo was drafted by the Lakers in 2017 following a stellar freshman season at UCLA, while LiAngelo hasn’t exactly enjoyed the same success post-high school.
Nonetheless, LaMelo took a very different route to the big leagues than his brothers, opting to play for the Illawarra Hawks of the National Basketball League in Australia. Before he suffered a season-ending foot injury, the 6’8 point guard dominated the NBL, averaging 17ppg, 7apg, and 7.5rbg at only 18 years old. His performance against professional talent drove up his NBA draft stock quite a bit, and he is expected to be a top-five pick in this year’s draft. In this article, I’m going to outlining five teams that I believe should draft Ball if they get the chance and why he would be a great fit on their team. Without further ado, let’s begin.
LaMelo’s NBL Stats:
New York Knicks
There hasn’t been much to talk about when it comes to basketball in the Big Apple for the last few years. After missing out on Zion Williamson in the draft and failing to sign any marquee free agents such as Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving, the Knicks are in pressing need of a franchise player. If given a chance, the Knicks should jump on the opportunity to draft Ball. Not only would he provide the Knicks with a long, talented point guard, he also gives them an exciting player who will undoubtedly sell tickets in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks currently have Dennis Smith Jr. and Frank Ntilikina as the primary point guards on their roster. I believe that New York is a place where Ball could come in and compete for the starting job right away. I think LaMelo’s father, LaVar, would be pleased with his son heading to a major market city. He lobbied heavily for his son Lonzo to be drafted by the Lakers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see LaVar share the same sentiment with his youngest going to New York.
With the team trading longtime starter Reggie Jackson away to the Clippers and Derrick Rose set to become a free agent, the Pistons are in need of a point guard. Detroit was also tied for the 2nd worst average attendance in the league last season. Drafting LaMelo Ball would both fill a hole on the roster and provide the Pistons with a ticket-selling player. Ball has been in the spotlight since he was a freshman in high school, and I don’t expect that to stop once he enters the NBA. Pairing Ball with Blake Griffin would also give Detroit a great 1-2 punch on pick and rolls and their offense in general. My only concern with putting Ball in this starting five is that they probably wouldn’t have the best defense, but Ball still has time to improve that area of his game. The Pistons also need to provide Blake Griffin with more weapons and a better overall team, as he is currently wasting his prime on a team that now looks to be going nowhere. Drafting Ball could give the Pistons another potential franchise player.
The Timberwolves are a team that historically has struggled with attendance, and that was no different this season. The Wolves finished dead last in the league in attendance and are projected to have a top pick in this year’s draft. Although Minnesota already has D’Angelo Russell locked into a four-year deal on their roster, I believe that the Timberwolves should look into drafting Ball if they have the chance. Russell has shown that he can play the two, as he did for a bit in Golden State. Pairing Ball with Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns would create a dynamic offensive trio. As I also said might be the case in Detroit, I think this team might struggle defensively. However, the Timberwolves need a player to help spark their franchise. They should draft LaMelo Ball, as he could attract new fans to the team and be a solid piece in building for the future.
Being one of the more significant markets in the country, we can all agree that LaVar Ball would be thrilled if the Bulls draft his son. Chicago would be an exciting destination for Ball, as they already have point guard Coby White, who has shown promise so far in his young NBA career. Despite this, I think that Ball is a player who could play alongside White. Ball is more of a facilitator than White is, leading me to believe that White could play the two alongside him. The Bulls also have several reliable shooters, including Lauri Markkanen and Otto Porter Jr. I think that Ball could thrive on a team like the Bulls, given the number of weapons that would be at the young playmaker’s disposal. The Bulls being located in Chicago also makes them a more favorable destination for Ball to go. While the Bulls aren’t exactly struggling in attendance, being located in Chicago gives Ball a chance to make a bigger brand and name for himself than he would in a smaller market.
Washington would perhaps be one of the more interesting destinations where Ball could be drafted. The Wizards are committed to their All-Star point guard John Wall for another three seasons, but he has been plagued with injuries and has been unable to play for the past year and a half. With so much uncertainty surrounding Wall and if he can return to All-Star form, it might be wise for the Wizards to draft Ball if given a chance. Ball will provide a reliable scoring option and facilitator to play beside Bradley Beal, who has lacked another star player beside him the past two seasons. Even if Wall is healthy and ready to go, he could be a mentor to Ball for the first few seasons of his career. I believe learning from a veteran point guard (who is very good defensively nonetheless) would be huge for LaMelo’s development. While I’m not sure that John Wall would be on board with this plan, I still think that Washington would undoubtedly be an attractive landing spot for the third Ball brother.