Attention all Warriors fans -- you need to start getting comfortable with the idea that LaMelo Ball very well could go No. 1 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.
Over the weekend, when you probably were stuffed from Thanksgiving leftovers and too tired to read anything, ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz moved Ball to No. 1 overall (from No. 3 in late September) in their latest mock draft.
As they explain:
There are only a handful of players in the NBA who can legitimately play point guard at 6-foot-7 like Ball. Ball is the youngest prospect in our top 20 and still has a huge amount of room to grow -- both physically and in terms of skill -- giving him the highest upside of any player in the draft.
It's way too early to know if the Warriors seriously are interested in picking Ball. After all, they do employ guys named Steph Curry and D'Angelo Russell, who possess the rock quite a bit.
There's also this very important caveat:
Both Schmitz and I have just received a significant amount of blowback from NBA teams who say that they simply don't trust Ball enough to hand him the keys to their franchise. They worry about what all the attention around him will do to their team culture, how strong his work ethic is and whether his father, LaVar, could become a distraction.
This seems significant. Does it mean there's a chance he could slip outside of the top-5? Or even the top-10?
Ball -- who doesn't turn 19 years old until Aug. 22 -- is playing in Australia for the Illawarra Hawks of the NBL. He is averaging 24.3 points, 9.3 assists and 9.3 rebounds over his last four games, while shooting 42 percent overall and 32.3 percent from deep.
As Ethan Strauss of The Athletic points out, Ball struggled at times last week when he faced off against fellow American guard RJ Hampton -- who coincidentally slotted in at No. 5 overall to Golden State in the same mock draft.
The Warriors (4-17) enter Monday's game against the Hawks (4-16) with the worst record in the league, but check out the upcoming schedule:
The Warriors are an NBA-worst 4-17, but check out their next five games:— Drew Shiller (@DrewShiller) December 2, 2019
-at Hawks (4-16)
-at Hornets (8-13)
-at Bulls (6-14, Warriors beat them last Wednesday)
-vs Grizzlies (6-13, Warriors beat them on Nov. 19)
-vs Knicks (4-16)
Combine that with the fact they eventually will get healthy and welcome back Kevon Looney, Russell, Jacob Evans, Damion Lee and presumably Curry ... the Warriors are going to start winning some games.
They ultimately might play themselves out of position for a high pick. But for now, they are in the NBA basement and intel on the top prospects very much matters.
LaMelo Ball, possible Warriors target, projected No. 1 NBA draft pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area