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Rumor: LaMelo Ball struggling in interviews, could slip in draft

LaMelo Ball

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 30: LaMelo Ball of the Hawks reacts during the round 9 NBL match between the New Zealand Breakers and the Illawarra Hawks at Spark Arena on November 30, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

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LaMelo Ball could go to the Timberwolves with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Ball and D’Angelo Russell would be an awkward fit in Minnesota’s backcourt, but Ball might be the best prospect available. He’s widely expected to get selected high in the draft.

Or at least was.

Rick Bonnell of The Charlotte Observer on Sports Radio WFNZ:

Here is what I’m hearing from the league at large: LaMelo Ball is not performing very well at job interviews. I’ve heard that from multiple sources. He is not improving his perception via job interview. There are people drafting later in the top ten who were not preparing for the possibility of Ball still being around. And I’m not saying that he will not be a top-three pick. I am saying that I know for a fact that there are teams later in the top ten who are doing more research on him, because they no longer think it’s a given he will.

There are so many smokescreens around the draft. If someone gave word that Ball was bombing interviews, that’d spread like wildfire – true or not. People love to dump on the Balls, given LaVar Ball’s bombast.

One theory: LaMelo is intentionally tanking interviews to avoid high-picking teams (ahem, Warriors) and get to a lower-picking team (ahem, Knicks). But if that’s his plan, he’s not totally devoted to it.

Jonathan Givony of ESPN:

Projected No. 1 pick LaMelo Ball met with the Minnesota Timberwolves, owners of the top selection in the NBA draft, on Tuesday, a source told ESPN.
He is tentatively scheduled to interview with the Golden State Warriors early next week; they have the No. 2 pick in the NBA draft. The expectation is that Ball also will interview with the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls, who pick third and fourth.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Ball – a 19-year-old who has been shepherded around the world to play professional basketball and jacks a ton of bad shots – interviewed poorly.

One piece of circumstantial evidence: James Wiseman has emerged as the player mentioned to generate trade rumors near the top of the draft. That doesn’t necessarily mean Ball’s stock has fallen below Wiseman’s. That could just be about the wide-open nature of this draft. But it is interesting.

That said, it also wouldn’t be surprising if this rumor – like plenty this time of year – were completely false.