LaMelo Ball, the youngest son of controversial Big Baller Brand founder LaVar Ball and younger brother of discarded Los Angeles Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, is garnering attention as a potential No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA draft, per ESPN.com.
Once committed to UCLA, LaMelo dropped out of high school as a junior in October 2017, embarking on a basketball journey that has taken the 18-year-old point guard to Lithuania, his father’s now defunct Junior Basketball Association, the SPIRE Institute, and now the National Basketball League in Australia, where he posted 19 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for Illawarra Hawks opposite the defending NBL champion Perth Wildcats in a preseason tournament on Friday.
"If he keeps this up, I don't see any way he isn't in the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick," an anonymous NBA executive said, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony. "He completely changed my perception of the type of prospect he is, and all of the background info I gathered here from his coaches and teammates paint a very different story of what I thought about him off the court as well."
Givony and ESPN colleague Mike Schmitz moved Ball up more than 20 spots to third on their 2020 mock draft, citing a scout who compared LaMelo’s playmaking at 6-foot-6 to that of last year’s No. 3 overall pick, reigning NBA Rookie of the Year Luka Doncic — arguably the most accomplished teenager in basketball history.
ESPN ranks only University of Memphis freshman center James Wiseman and University of Georgia freshman wing Anthony Edwards ahead of Ball at this point.
There will undoubtedly be a high level of skepticism surrounding Ball, given his brother Lonzo’s own struggles to meet the hype as the No. 2 overall pick in 2017.
Then, there is LaVar, the man behind the hype (or in front of it), who has stirred controversy surrounding his sons ever since we learned of the Ball brothers. LaVar got into a Twitter spat with President Donald Trump when his eldest son LiAngelo allegedly shoplifted in China. Lonzo cut business ties with LaVar after their partner allegedly defrauded them of millions. The Lakers made several attempts to limit LaVar’s media availability before including Lonzo in their trade for Anthony Davis.
Now, there is LaMelo, who as a teenager has been tasked with rebuilding his own image halfway around the globe after a failed venture in Lithuania. According to ESPN, LaVar’s presence around Illawarra has been limited. That is a step in the right direction, but we will believe an NBA team takes LaMelo No. 1 when we see it.
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