- This is the sixth installment of a series breaking down the potential selections for the Golden State Warriors with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.
We are down to just six weeks before the 2020 NBA Draft and the conversations regarding certain prospects are heating up. With the No. 2 overall pick, the Warriors are in a strong position to land an impact player, which head coach Steve Kerr acknowledged late last week.
This is an interesting draft in that there aren't a lot of tiers, especially in the top ten. The Warriors will have their choice of a selection of prospects, with only Minnesota choosing before them. They also have an opportunity to move down or even out of the draft if they land the right deal.
One of the more intriguing prospects amongst the group being considered for the top overall spot is Lonzo Ball’s little brother, LaMelo. Rumors have Ball going anywhere from No. 1 overall all the way down to No. 8 where the New York Knicks are selecting.
Here is a look at some of the positives and negatives surrounding Ball, as well as how he might fit with the Warriors if he falls to No. 2.
Stats: 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.7 steals, 37.5% FG, 25% 3-pt
Age: 19 Height: 6-foot-7 Weight: 190 Wingspan: Not available
Ball chose a unique route to the NBA with stops in Ukraine and Australia before the age of 19. He played last season with the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s NBL and held his own against adult competition, although he only played in a total of 13 games.
At 6-foot-7, he’s big for a point guard, although he still needs to fill out and get stronger for NBA competition. He’s been in the weight room throughout the lockdown, but he’ll need a professional training staff to take him to the next level.
LaMelo is the youngest of the Ball brothers and he’s been a known player for years at this point. He is also the guinea pig of sorts for his father’s obsession with NBA workarounds and monetizing his son’s basketball abilities.
Ball has come a long way since being the star of the AAU circuit with his long-range shooting and cherry-picking scoring. He’s listed at anywhere between 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-8 and with a wingspan between 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-10.
He has incredible ball-handling skills with both hands and he has elite court vision. His passing ability is off the charts for a player his age and he projects as a ball-dominant playmaking point guard with scoring potential.
Ball got to the free throw line 3.9 times per game where he hit 72.3 percent. He’s a crafty player that has almost every trick in his arsenal when attacking in a one-on-one situation. He needs to improve his percentage from everywhere on the floor, including the line, but he should be able to produce at the NBA level.
In his stint in Australia, he posted a 6.8-to-2.5 assist-to-turnover ratio, which is really good considering that he was playing against grown men. He finished second in the league in assists per game behind former NBA player Scott Machado.
He has a high-level basketball IQ and he has played above his age from the time he was very young. There is hope that he could step in and start as a rookie for many NBA teams.
Ball also is an excellent rebounder for his position, posting 5.7 defensive and 1.9 offensive rebounds per game. His size and leaping ability should help him translate to the NBA level, although he won’t be allowed to attack the glass at the expense of his defense like he did overseas.
On the defensive side, Ball has quick hands, solid footwork and good instincts. He led the ABL in steals and there is a good chance that skill translates directly to the NBA game.
Like his brother Lonzo, LaMelo has a very interesting shot. He’s worked to refine it and he showed incredible range as a prep athlete, but it’s not at an NBA level at this point.
Due to his overall size, he should be able to get his shot up, but a major rework of his entire shooting approach and mechanics are necessary. During his Zoom session with the media, Ball confirmed that he has not changed his shot, although he’s posted videos showing that he’s smoothed out some of the hitches.
Either way, Ball’s 37.5 percent shooting percentage overall and 25 percent from 3-point range in the ABL is not a fluke. Compounding the issue is that he has shown poor shot selection and he avoids contact.
While Ball has quick hands and defensive potential, he is also a major work in progress on this side of the ball. Effort and lack of strength have been an issue, but he also gambles for steals and leaves his man to chase rebound numbers. He’s slow on closeouts and his overall defensive approach will have to be reworked at the NBA level.
Lastly, there is the issue of LaMelo’s father, LaVar. His antics didn’t work in Los Angeles when Lonzo was on the Lakers and there is a chance that he will become a distraction again with his youngest son, regardless of where LaMelo lands on draft night.
LeMelo contradicted his father’s thoughts on a potential fit in Golden State, but the fact that we know his father’s thoughts might be the bigger issue. This shouldn’t be the main factor to consider, but it should be part of a larger discussion with Ball as a prospect.
Fit with Warriors
This is an interesting question. Stephen Curry is the leader of this squad and despite being on the wrong side of 32, he is a player that the Warriors expect to play a substantial role with the team for the next few years.
Ball is an elite ball handler and playmaker and can make the players around him better, but his inability to consistently shoot from the perimeter is an issue.
The Warriors could use him in a three-guard set alongside Curry and Klay Thompson to alleviate some of this issue, but there are concerns that he needs the ball in his hands as a lead guard to be effective.
With his size, Ball has the ability to potentially defend three positions, although he needs a lot of work on the basics of team defending and decision making. He’s a work in progress on this side of the ball, but his versatility is a plus for a team like the Warriors, especially as an on-ball defender.
If the Warriors are looking at the long term, Ball might be a player that can run your franchise for the next decade-plus. There are plenty of concerns about his commitment on the defensive end and his shot selection, but his ability to pass and make those around him better is special.
Ball is different than any prospect in this year’s draft and putting a ceiling on him is a mistake. He could easily be the best player in this class when it’s all said and done, but whether he truly fits with the Warriors overall is a huge question.
Michael Carter-Williams, bigger Ricky Rubio