Editor's note: As the Warriors prepare for the 2020 NBA Draft, during which they will have a lottery pick for the first time since 2012, NBC Sports Bay Area will present a twice-weekly series spotlighting two players expected to be evaluated. This is the fourth of a 12-part series over the next six weeks.
As the draft's biggest conundrum, LaMelo Ball's potential is just as polarizing as his current shortcomings. For all his potential as a scorer, his shooting percentage is subpar. For all his potential as a playmaker, his turnover totals in an inferior league give NBA scouts pause. For all his potential, his father, LaVar Ball, may have the power to mess it all up.
Nonetheless, as an 18-year old, 6-foot-7 point guard, he may have the highest ceiling in the draft.
Ball's journey is different than other prospects have traveled. After playing two seasons at Chino Hills High School, Ball briefly played in Lithuania and for LaVar's Junior Basketball Association before playing at the SPIRE Institute, a prep school in Ohio, for his senior season. That stint in Lithuania plus his association with his father's Big Baller Brand put his NCAA eligibility in question. With the NCAA unlikely to clear him, Ball elected to forgo college and instead play in the Australian National Basketball League.
In his lone season with Illawarra Hawks of the NBL, he averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists before a foot injury ended his season. Against the Zealand Breakers, he scored 25 points, adding 12 rebounds and nine assists against another projected top 10 pick in RJ Hampton. Nearly two weeks prior, he finished with 17 points, six rebounds and six assists against the powerhouse Sydney Kings, a team featuring former Warriors big man Andrew Bogut.
Ball's strengths include his scoring, rebounding and feel for the game. As a high school sophomore, he scored 91 points in a game, including 41 in the fourth quarter. A 6-foot-7 guard, he rebounds well for his position and can lead an offense.
However, his offensive game is hindered by poor shot selection. Despite averaging double digits, he shot just 37 percent from the field against inferior competition. Adding to his troubles, he frequently gets lost defensively, leading to easy opportunities for his opponent. Yet, his biggest question mark has nothing to do with his game or future potential. It's his outspoken, controversial father LaVar, whose actions towards his sons have turned some NBA observers off.
However, LaVar's boisterous ways didn't stop the Warriors from working out LaMelo's brother, LiAngelo, prior to the 2018 NBA Draft. While it's unlikely the Warriors pick LaMelo with their lottery pick, it'll have more to do with lack of fit alongside Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson than outside forces.
LaMelo Ball profile
Birthdate: August 22, 2001 (18 years old)
Hometown: Chino Hills, CA.
2019-20 stats: 17.0 points (37.0 percent FG, 25 percent 3-point, 72.3 percent FT), 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists
What they’re saying: “He reminds me of Luka Doncic. Just in terms of his size, his feel, and his creativity. He plays with incredible pace, he’s never sped up, he’s never rattled by anything that’s thrown at him." - NBA scout via ESPN's Jonathan Givony