Is LaMelo Ball going to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft?

LaMelo, LiAngelo, and LaVar Ball watch a press conference.
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Ricky Dimon

NBA· 1 year ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Can you imagine LaMelo Ball on the Golden State Warriors?

The prospect of Golden State getting the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft would have been unfathomable as recently as this past summer and even at the start of this season in still would have been an absurd proposition. But it’s a real possibility now, as the Warriors are saddled with the league’s worst record at 3-14 heading into Monday’s game against Oklahoma City (check out our free NBA expert predictions).

For teams like Golden State, Oklahoma City, New York, Cleveland, and arguably a few others, the playoffs are already out of the question. It may not be tank season quite yet, but the draft lottery has to be in the forefront of their minds.

Big game in the NBL

The lottery is in Ball’s mind, as well—certainly after his performance on Monday, when he led Illawarra of the NBL (based in Australia and New Zealand) to a 114-106 overtime victory over Cairns. The 18-year-old delivered 32 points, 13 assists, and 11 rebounds while also draining a game-tying three-pointer with six seconds left in regulation to force OT.

“I think everyone saw tonight what he’s capable of,” said head coach Matt Flinn. “We see it pretty regularly in practice when the doors are closed, but it was really nice for him to get into a flow. He just impacts the game in so many different ways. It’s exciting to be a part of and it’s also the way he brings his teammates into the game as well. There’s so many good players in this league, but the really great ones make everyone around them better, and I think we saw tonight he can bring other people into the game.”

Ball is averaging 14.7 ppg, 6.1 apg, and 6.7 rpg in 29.8 minutes per contest.

Other candidates

Of course, there is no guarantee that the Warriors would go with Ball if given the opportunity. Head coach Steve Kerr has been known to feature guard-heavy lineups, but it is certainly not a position of need assuming Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson get healthy in the not-too-distant future.

And there is no guarantee Ball would be the top selection regardless of which NBA team wins the lottery. James Wiseman of Memphis, Cole Anthony of North Carolina, and Georgia’s Anthony Edwards are also in the mix.

Wiseman is in the midst of a 15-game suspension for improper benefits but should return to the Tigers in plenty of time to lead them to the NCAA Tournament, where he could make an even bigger name for himself. Anthony is averaging 22.8 ppg, 8.0 rpg, and 4.5 apg for the undefeated Tar Heels. Edwards, also a freshman, is contributing 19.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 4.0 apg to the Bulldogs’ cause. Wiseman and Edwards, especially, are physical specimens unlike Ball. But the youngest Ball brother’s all-around skill could eventually put him over the top.

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