LaMelo Ball, possible Warriors target, projected No. 1 NBA draft pick

LaMelo Ball, possible Warriors target, projected No. 1 NBA draft pick

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.

[RELATEDTop NBA draft prospect LaMelo Ball is a big fan of Steph]

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:

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.

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Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

Warriors' Steve Kerr says trade rumors don't affect D'Angelo Russell

D'Angelo Russell is rapidly approaching a date some NBA observers have circled since the Warriors acquired him this summer.

Golden State can trade Russell as soon as Sunday, Dec. 15, and the 23-year-old has been the source of trade speculation during his time in the Bay Area. The Athletic's Jon Krawczynski reported Wednesday, citing sources that the Minnesota Timberwolves "remain interested in Russell" and that the guard "seems to be realistic in understanding that he may not be long for the Warriors once Steph Curry and Klay Thompson return to full health."

Russell is averaging a career-high 22.4 points per game this season to go with 6.1 assists and 3.1 rebounds, serving as the top offensive option in the absence of his All-Star teammates. He knew he wouldn't play much with Thompson this season as he recovers from a torn ACL, but Curry's broken hand threw a wrench into the Warriors' -- and thus Russell's -- prospects this season. Warriors coach Steve Kerr praised how Russell has handled the rumors surrounding him. 

"Money doesn't buy peace of mind," Kerr said Friday morning (H/T San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau). "It doesn't buy a sense of belonging, a sense of, 'Alright, this is my team.' If there's speculation that you're going to be traded all the time, I don't care how much money you make, I don't care who you are. That's tough. That's no fun to deal with, and this season has been nowhere close to what D'Angelo thought it would be when he first signed with us.

"There's no Steph. We're struggling to win games. He's had his own injuries, and we're throwing all kinds of different lineups out there based on the other injuries we've faced." 

Russell has played in just 15 of the Warriors' 27 games this season, playing on a team that looks far more like the Los Angeles Lakers of his first two seasons than the playoff-contending Brooklyn Nets a year ago -- let alone the reigning Western Conference champion Warriors. 

[RELATED: How Warriors' Chriss earning chance to start at center]

Kerr, who entered this season with the highest winning percentage in NBA history (.785), is as aware of Golden State's dramatically different reality as anyone. He said it has only brought out the best in Russell. 

"So given all that, he's played really well, and he's been a great teammate and he's doing everything he needs to do to solidify his position here," Kerr continued. "But this is the NBA here, and we never know what's coming, what's happening. So, it's a difficult position to be in in general, but for him in particular it's strange set of circumstances and he's handling it really well." 

Whether or not the Warriors trade Russell, it's clear Kerr holds him in high regard. 

Watch Warriors' Ky Bowman dominate for Santa Cruz in G League debut

Watch Warriors' Ky Bowman dominate for Santa Cruz in G League debut

Warriors two-way guard Ky Bowman made his G League debut Friday night in Santa Cruz.

He dominated the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario. 

The Boston College product could have scored 40 points if he really wanted to, but he picked his spots and made sure his teammates were getting good looks.

After shootaround in Utah on Friday, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked what Bowman can work on while he's with the Sea Dubs.

"He's got a really aggressive mindset -- which I like -- but there are still circumstances and situations where he needs to think more pass," Kerr said. "And more strategic, rather than just score, score, score."

Bowman clearly listened to the eight-time NBA champion.

[RELATEDWhy Dubs might be very active before, after trade deadline]

Also, "Sky Bowman" was on full display.

The 22-year-old will be back in action Sunday afternoon as Santa Cruz faces the Northern Arizona Suns. Watch the game at 2:00 p.m. on NBC Sports Bay Area.

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