Anthony Edwards

Warriors' draft possibility LaMelo Ball out four weeks with foot injury

Warriors' draft possibility LaMelo Ball out four weeks with foot injury

Warriors general manager Bob Myers reportedly has been planning a trip to Australia to scout two potential NBA lottery picks, but he might want to postpone that now.

One of those two prospects -- the Illawarra Hawks' LaMelo Ball -- is expected to sit out the next four weeks with a bruised foot, the team announced Sunday.

Ball, of course, is the youngest brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, and he has improved his draft stock significantly over his first season in the Australian NBL, averaging 17.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 31 minutes per game. Ball is expected to make a full recovery in time to rejoin Illawarra before the end of the regular season in mid-February.

That timeline, however, will rule Ball out of a third highly-anticipated matchup with the New Zealand Breakers' R.J. Hampton -- the other aforementioned potential lottery pick -- that was scheduled for Dec. 22. Numerous scouts were expected to be in attendance for that head-to-head meeting, but that number likely will come down now. Hampton happens to be banged up, too, having missed the Breakers' game Sunday with a hip flexor injury.

The Warriors are expected to have a very high draft pick, and both Ball and Hampton currently appear to be in contention for the No. 1 overall selection. The two Australian-located prospects will have to fend off multiple stateside challengers, however, namely Memphis' James Wiseman, Georgia's Anthony Edwards and North Carolina's Cole Anthony.

[RELATED: Why R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball might interest Warriors]

Golden State already was going to have far more opportunities to scout those latter three names in person than the former two, and with Ball expected to be sidelined for at least a month, that difference has been further exacerbated.

NBA Draft 2020: Watch Anthony Edwards drill game-winning 3-pointer

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AP

NBA Draft 2020: Watch Anthony Edwards drill game-winning 3-pointer

Warriors fans got to see two things that were easy on the eyes Wednesday night. 

First, the injury-ravaged Warriors picked up their fourth win of the season, knocking off the rebuilding Chicago Bulls 104-90 at Chase Center. 

For those fans who already have turned their attention to the draft, they might have seen Georgia freshman and likely top-five NBA draft pick Anthony Edwards deliver the first signature moment of his collegiate career over on the big island.

On Tuesday, some of the Warriors' brass was on hand to watch Edwards pour in 37 points -- 33 in the second half -- against Michigan State in the 2019 Maui Invitational Tournament. 

Then, on Wednesday, with the Bulldogs in a battle with Chaminade, Edwards scored 15 points in the final 18 minutes, including a dagger 3-pointer to give Georgia the lead with 0.1 seconds remaining.

He called game. 

Edwards might have the highest ceiling of any NBA draft prospect. At 6-foot-5, 225 pounds with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Edwards is a physical specimen. He is powerful in almost every move he makes, specifically in attacking the rim. But his power and athleticism also permit him to be explosive getting in and out of crossovers and step-backs.

His 3-point shot still needs some work, but based on his shooting display in Maui, he already has improved his stroke.

[RELATED: Spellman thankful Warriors have helped save his NBA career]

Edwards is still very young and extremely raw, but there's no denying that he has the potential to be a slashing, attack-the-rim star in his early NBA days, much like Donovan Mitchell or a young Dwyane Wade. 

The 2020 class is relatively weak, but Edwards appears to be one of the early jewels. He would look quite nice next to Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. 

Warriors on hand to see Anthony Edwards make case for top NBA draft pick

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AP

Warriors on hand to see Anthony Edwards make case for top NBA draft pick

It's pretty obvious that the Warriors are going to have a very, very high draft pick. At 3-15, they sit alone at the bottom of the NBA standings.

With the collegiate season underway, we're beginning to get a closer look at some of the prospects rumored to be in the mix for the top of the draft. Memphis center James Wiseman entered the season as the prohibitive favorite and still might be, but the competition is heating up.

Warriors GM Bob Myers reportedly will scout both R.J. Hampton and LaMelo Ball during an upcoming trip to Australia. NBC Sports' Tom Haberstroh recently argued that Hampton would make better sense for Golden State than Ball, but there might be a different wing prospect who trumps both.

If you happened to watch Monday's Maui Invitational game between Michigan State and Georgia, you already know of whom I speak.

The Bulldogs might have ended up on the losing side, but that certainly wasn't for a lack of trying on freshman Anthony Edwards' part. Just watch these clips:

In case you were wondering, the Warriors had a presence to see Edwards' standout performance firsthand:

Edwards scored 33 of his game-high 37 points in the second half alone to bring Georgia back from a 28-point deficit against the No. 3 team in the country. Listed at 6-foot-5, 225 lbs. with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, he has the size and length to play either shooting guard or small forward at the NBA level. Much like Wiseman, he would fit in perfectly with what Golden State already has:

The Warriors intend to jump back into contention following this very down year, and Edwards could be a big part of that if he's available with the Warriors' top selection.

But will he be available?

In years past, the team with the worst record in the league would have been guaranteed no worse than the No. 4 overall pick in the draft and had a 25-percent chance of receiving the first overall selection. However, that's no longer the case. With the lottery reform instituted last season, the team with the worst record is guaranteed no worse than the No. 5 overall pick, and the teams with the three worst records have an equal 14-percent chance of receiving the top selection. 

Golden State is on pace for a 14-win season right now. Yes, when All-Stars like Steph Curry and D'Angelo Russell return to the lineup, one would expect that win rate to improve ... a tad. But unless something absolutely insane happens, it's awfully difficult to envision a scenario in which the Warriors don't finish with a bottom-three record.

[RELATED: Warriors, resigned to their fate, smart to be looking ahead]

So, since there is no difference in odds to win the lottery among the teams with the worst three records, it favors Golden State if there are multiple prospects worthy of the top overall selection. Even if they don't pick at No. 1 overall, they should still end up with a premium prospect like Edwards, Wiseman or Hampton.