Speaking on a Zoom call with reporters Tuesday, LaMelo Ball said he didn’t work out for the Bulls in person in advance of Wednesday’s NBA draft.
That nugget only reinforces what has been reported for weeks -- that the Bulls are under the impression they’d need to trade up from their current No. 4 pick if they wanted to secure the tantalizing point guard prospect.
Most league executives who NBC Sports Chicago talked to on background are under the belief that Ball will be one of the top-three picks. His in-person workout schedule of the Minnesota Timberwolves (owners of the No. 1 overall pick), Golden State Warriors (No. 2), Hornets (No. 3) and Pistons (No. 7) would reflect that. Those teams represent the first three picks, plus the franchise in the city where Ball has made his workout base.
“I don’t look at anything like that as pressure. It’s just basketball,” Ball said of the predraft process. “Being the No. 1 pick definitely holds a lot. But I feel like I was born for it.”
Multiple outlets reported that the Bulls skipped an opportunity to use one of their 10 in-person visits on Ball, which NBC Sports Chicago confirmed via a league source. In-person workouts aren’t the be-all, end-all to a draft selection, which involve in-person, regular-season scouting, film and background work.
However, in this unprecedented predraft process that has been severely altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, an in-person workout and visit has benefits. The Bulls did use in-person visits on point guard prospects Kira Lewis Jr. and Tyrese Haliburton.
For the second time in his media availabilities, Ball evoked a casual and confident vibe. He said he’d fit “great” alongside D’Angelo Russell should the Timberwolves draft him No. 1 overall. And he downplayed his father’s comments about hoping his son lands with the Knicks.
“He probably just likes the big market I guess, me knowing him,” Ball said of his outspoken father, Lavar. “I don’t really know. Probably a question you gotta ask him.”
Haliburton, Lewis, Patrick Williams and Deni Advija remain prominent possibilities for the Bulls. As for Ball, he’s ready to go anywhere.
“I don’t really compare my game to anybody but myself,” he said. “You only go through this process once. So I’m really just enjoying it.”