If it feels as though it’s taking forever to get to the NBA Draft, that’s only because it is. This year’s prospects are having to wait longer than ever since everything on the schedule has been pushed back by the pandemic. One former NBA player assures fans that LaMelo Ball will be worth the wait.
LaMelo Ball is on the short list
The next NBA draft will be one of the more intriguing ones. Most of the players who will be selected on Nov. 18 will not have played a real game for more than eight months by that point.
The delay has given teams more time than usual to run their background checks. They are expected to be able to work out players to at least a limited degree. But there will be the usual degree of uncertainty, and then some. The abrupt end to the conference tournaments and cancellation of the NCAA Tournament deprived NBA teams of seeing some head-to-head matchups of top prospects that normally help sort out the draft order.
Three names seem to have floated to the top of the list of candidates to be selected first: Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, and LaMelo Ball. Assuming that there are no pre-draft trades, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and Charlotte Hornets will kick off the selections.
Georgia one-and-done star Edwards seems to be the consensus No. 1 and headed to Minnesota. Everything beyond that gets fuzzy. However, former NBA player Andrew Bogut says there shouldn’t be any doubt.
Andrew Bogut is impressed by LaMelo Ball
Andrew Bogut, one of the best players to come out of Australia, is a veteran of five NBA teams from 2005-19. He appeared in 706 games, averaging 9.6 points and 8.7 rebounds per contest. The 7-foot center played most of the past two seasons in his homeland.
That gave him a first-hand look at American guard LaMelo Ball, who spent the past year playing for the Illawarra Hawks in Australia’s top league. The 6-foot-7 Ball shot just 37.5% from the field in 12 games, but he averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists a contest.
“He seemed to make the right decisions every time down the floor,” Bogut said, according to a transcription by TheSpun.com. “I think his passing is probably the No. 1 aspect of his game. So, I think he’s going to be a pure point guard in the mold of what Jason Kidd used to be, that kind of mold.
“I don’t see him as a big top scorer, I think he’s more going to be a Jason Kidd/Rajon Rondo-type player.”
Jason Kidd’s Hall of Fame career
An experienced player like Andrew Bogut comparing LaMelo Ball to Jason Kidd definitely qualifies as high praise. Kidd played 19 NBA seasons beginning in 1994, won a pair of gold medals in the Olympics, and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame in 2018.
Kidd averaged 12.6 points a game though he was only a 40.0% shooter. However, he led the NBA in assists five times in a six-season span and averaged 8.7 assists a game for his career.
That was good enough to make the NBA All-Star Game team 10 times, although it was at the other end of the court that he really made his mark by earning spots on the All-Defensive team nine times.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference