Andrew Bogut had a front-row view last season in watching one of the most well-known basketball players in the world. No, not his former Warriors teammate Steph Curry. We're talking about LaMelo Ball, of course.
Bogut, who played four seasons with the Warriors and won one championship, played 25 games last season in Australia's NBL. While the former No. 1 overall draft pick suited up for the Sydney Kings, he played against Ball, who very well could be the top pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Ball played for the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL instead of going the college route, and Bogut believes that's a big advantage for the young point guard.
"He had a great year here," Bogut said Wednesday on 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto & Kolsky" show. "I think the advantage for him is he's not only played in Australia but played all -- Lithuania, he's seen different levels on a day-to-day basis. Our league is a pretty tough league. Not as known around the world, but there's not a lot of teams and it's very physical, very competitive. I think that's given him a leg up when you compare him to college guys. I think he'll be a bit more ready and accustomed to that grown-man basketball.
"I think he's definitely in the running to be top five, it's just a matter of where."
In theory, Ball should be pro-ready from Day 1. He has played professionally in two countries and was named the NBL's Rookie of the Year despite just playing 12 games. In a small sample size, he averaged 17 points, 6.8 assists and 7.6 rebounds per game.
Ball, who is 6-foot-7, could come off the bench for the Warriors and run the second unit. The youngest Ball brother would be a scoring threat and already is seen as a great passer at young age.
"He's an elite passer already," Bogut said. "There's no doubt in my mind he's an elite passer. His basketball IQ from a playmaking position of running the point and pick-and-rolls, that's where he excels. ... In my opinion, he's already elite at that."
But that doesn't mean Ball is a perfect prospect, far from it. He has a bit of a wonky shot, forgets that you have to play defense and then there's the circus that comes with his father. Bogut recognizes these flaws and red flags, but he believes some are very understandable.
"It's all the other facets of his game where some parts he needs to improve, especially defensively," Bogut said. "But in fairness to him, I don't think he's been coached defensively. I don't think he's had a coach who has held him accountable and made sure he's learned defensive techniques as much as he's learning offensive techniques.
"That's pretty common among players his age."
Perhaps the Warriors believe Ball is worth the risk with the No. 2 overall pick. Ball is seen as the most talented prospect in the draft by many evaluators. If he can learn from Steve Kerr, Ron Adams and veteran players like Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Curry, Ball might turn into the star people have envisioned since he was in junior high school. That's a big if, though.
Ball isn't the best fit for the Warriors, there's no doubt about that. Bogut is right, though. There certainly is reason to believe Ball has a leg up on other draft prospects. Bogut believes the NBL is "far above" college basketball and a "notch above" the G League. Ball proved himself for the most part in the NBL. Can he do the same in the NBA?
The even bigger question is, will it be in a Warriors jersey?