After years of waiting, the LaMelo Ball show is finally coming to the NBA.
Ball, the younger brother of Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball and son of the controversial LaVar Ball, is an elite point guard prospect. Ball is the presumptive No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NBA draft, a pick that belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Here is everything that basketball fans need to know about the youngest of the Ball brothers.
LaMelo Ball is an elite point guard prospect
At 6 feet 7 inches and 181 pounds, LaMelo Ball brings unquestioned size to the guard position.
Rather than attending UCLA like his brothers Lonzo and LiAngelo did, LaMelo started his professional career early.
LaMelo and LiAngelo signed with Prienai of the Lithuanian Basketball League in December 2017, but left the team after four months. The youngest Ball averaged 6.5 points and 2.4 assists on only 26.8% from the field.
After a brief stint in the Junior Basketball Association, a now-defunct league created by LaVar Ball, LaMelo spent the 2019-20 season in the Australian-based National Basketball League. Ball averaged 17 points on 37.5% shooting, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 1.6 steals in 12 games.
His brother is Lonzo Ball
Years before LaMelo Ball even became a draft-eligible player, the Ball family rose to attention and notoriety for other reasons.
Lonzo Ball, a top point guard prospect who played one season at UCLA, was considered a top-3 prospect in the 2017 NBA draft.
Lonzo and his father, LaVar, made the media rounds in the weeks leading up to the draft. LaVar stole the show as he boasted about how he could beat some of the greatest players in league history, how his Big Baller Brand would take over the world, and how Lonzo would become the sport’s next greatest point guard.
Lonzo averaged 10 points, 6.2 assists, 6.4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals per night in two seasons with the Lakers, who traded him to New Orleans last year in the Anthony Davis deal.
Still only 22 for most of the season, Ball averaged 11.8 points, seven assists, 6.1 rebounds, and 1.4 steals in 63 games and 54 starts.
New Orleans could have a talented and young Big 3 in Ball, Brandon Ingram, and former No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson. Ingram is a restricted free agent who can sign a max contract with the Pelicans in free agency.
What does LaMelo Ball bring to the NBA?
LaMelo Ball’s unorthodox basketball journey has led him to this point: the 2020 NBA draft.
Although Ball is expected to go early in the first round, not all talent evaluators think he will be the league’s next superstar. In a scouting report for NBA.com, Eric Fawcett praised Ball’s passing ability and intangibles.
However, Fawcett didn’t hold back when he called Ball’s defensive effort “legitimately laughable.”
“When he wants to show up on that side of the floor he has the length to get stops and has the IQ to diagnose actions and make proper rotations but sadly those plays are few and far between. If he is a top tier offensive player he might be able to overshadow the defensive concerns but if he isn’t scoring at a star level he’ll need to show the ability to compete on the defensive end.”
Fawcett compared Ball to Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie. Although Dinwiddie is a fine player who has impressed in Brooklyn, he’s not an ideal comparison for a possible No. 1 overall pick.
Ball will have plenty of chances to prove Fawcett wrong — and those opportunities will come fairly soon. Barring any setbacks, the NBA will begin its 2020-21 season in late-December.