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2020 NBA Draft: LaMelo Ball is a super talent, but can he play with John Wall?

2020 NBA Draft: LaMelo Ball is a super talent, but can he play with John Wall?

The Washington Wizards are likely to have a lottery pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2020 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: LaMelo Ball

Team: Illawarra (Australia)
Position: Guard
Age: 18 (turns 19 in Aug.)
Height: 6-7
Weight: 190
Wingspan: 6-10

2019/20 stats: 12 G, 31.3 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 6.8 apg, 1.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 37.5 FG% (6.3/16.7), 29.4 3PT% (2.3/7.7), 77.2 FT%

Player comparison: Lonzo Ball, Ricky Rubio

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 3rd, Sports Illustrated 5th, Ringer 2nd, NBADraft.net 3rd, Bleacher Report 3rd

5 things to know:

*Ball is the youngest in the now-famous basketball family. His older brother, Lonzo, plays for the Pelicans and was the second overall pick in the 2017 draft. His other older brother, LiAngelo, plays for the Thunder's G-League team. You also may have heard of his father, LaVar, who has made headlines in recent years for his commentary. Some believe LaMelo will be the best of the Ball brothers.

*While Lonzo starred at UCLA, LaMelo went to Australia to play professional basketball in his one year out of high school to prepare for the NBA. Ball played for Illawarra, a team that also featured former NBA players Josh Boone and Aaron Brooks. Ball put up some strong numbers and had some dominant performances, including a 32-point triple-double, but he only appeared in 12 games and did not shoot efficiently.

*Ball only played in 12 games in the NBL due to a foot injury. It was described as a bone bruise, but it required him to wear a walking boot and it was enough to prematurely end his season. That said, there was likely some extra precaution shown given his NBA future.

*Ball is one of the best play-makers in this class. He's got great size for a point guard and has similar passing ability to his brother, Lonzo, who is one of the more skilled distributors in the NBA. Also like his brother, Ball is a gifted rebounder for his position, the type of player that could flirt with triple-doubles regularly at the next level. The knocks on Ball may also sound familiar: he turns the ball over too much and will likely need to adjust his shooting form at the next level.


*The Wizards did their due diligence on Ball this season, sending multiple people to Australia to scout him in-person as well as hiring a scout based full-time in the area, NBC Sports Washington was told. With Ball and also R.J. Hampton in that region, the NBA scouting map has expanded and the Wizards had good timing with their front office overhaul last summer. They beefed up their international scouting capabilities and were prepared for covering more ground across the globe.

Fit with Wizards: Ball represents the most interesting question mark in this year's draft for the Wizards because he plays the same position and a similar style to John Wall, their highest-paid and most accomplished player. Wall is a five-time All-Star on a supermax contract, but he is also coming off a ruptured Achilles and the Wizards are in a position where they probably need to pick the best player available, no matter who it is.

Ball and Wall, despite holding potential for a cool nickname, likely wouldn't be able to co-exist on the floor at the same time, at least initially. They are both at their best with the ball in their hands and don't have the consistent outside jumper to complement each other.

That doesn't mean the Wizards shouldn't take Ball. If he stands out as the best player on the board, they could take him, start him out as Wall's back-up and then figure it out later. If Wall doesn't return to form and Ball becomes a star, they could move forward with Ball. Or, in a best-case scenario where both are stars on the same team, they could trade one and keep the other.

There is, of course, a worst-case scenario and that is the personalities don't mix. Though Ball's presence could light a fire under Wall, those situations don't always work out as planned. Problems could be caused in the locker room and LaVar has a way of throwing gasoline on fire.

All of that, however, is for the Wizards front office to figure out. What is certain is that Ball will be one of the first players taken in the draft and he could be the best player available when the Wizards are picking.

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Lakers' LeBron James says 'The Great Wall of John coming soon' after watching Wall's workout video

Lakers' LeBron James says 'The Great Wall of John coming soon' after watching Wall's workout video

John Wall threw a bomb into the NBA universe when he posted this snippet of his workout on social media and looked like an absolute monster. 

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Just Wait On It...🤫👌🏾‼️

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Many players around the league hopped into Wall's comments section to send the 5x All-Star some love and one of them happened to be the King, LeBron James.

"Yessir!!! The Great Wall of John coming soon!!" James said. 

Wall and James have been good friends since Wall entered the league in 2010 — the two have exchanged advice over the years, trained together in the offseason, and participated in heated head-to-head battles as well. 

"LeBron's a great leader," Wall said back in 2014. "Patience — that's something he has preached to me since his rookie year."

A few more high-profile athletes showed Wall some love on Instagram Sunday night — Former Wizards' star Gilbert Arenas, former Wizard Isaiah Thomas, and Washington Football Team QB Dwayne Haskins. 


Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.


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Bradley Beal knows how much returning to NBA games will mean to John Wall

Bradley Beal knows how much returning to NBA games will mean to John Wall

The NBA currently has plans to open its 2020-21 regular season in December. If that holds true, John Wall will take the floor for the first time in nearly two full years.

He had surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles in February 2019, but had been out since the previous December due to bone spurs. Two years is a long time to sit out, especially when it coincides with what should be a player's prime.

Bradley Beal, meanwhile, has continued to lead the Wizards in Wall's absence. And now that his 2019-20 season has been shut down, he too is looking towards next year and he can't wait to reunite with his partner in the backcourt.

"Oh man, I'm beyond excited. I'm not going to lie," Beal said Sundy afternoon on NBC Sports Washington.

But beyond his own anticipation, Beal has grown close enough to Wall over the years to understand how much returning to the court will mean to him. Wall has not only been out of the game for a while, much has changed during that time. He has spoken sentimentally about what his first game will mean to him.

It will be the first game since his mother's death due to cancer. And it will be the first time he will play in front of his son.


Wall has lived a tumultous life. Beal knows full well what the game of basketball has meant to him throughout all of it.

"I'm more happy for him than anything because he gets to get back on the floor. He hasn't been on the floor in a long time," Beal said. "For him to be able to get his place of peace, his muse back and his love and joy back, I think that will be great. I'm definitely looking forward to just us together."

When Wall does play again, there will be plenty of focus on how he looks when he returns after so much time off and after a very serious injury. There have been encouraging reports and video footage of him playing in practice situations, but the true test will be in an NBA game situation.


In that time, Beal's game has transformed significantly. He has blossomed into a two-time All-Star who now counts an expanded repertoire of play-making skills. He was forced to add elements to his game with Wall out of the mix.

Though they have played seven NBA seasons together, there is some intrigue and mystery about how they will look when they reunite. Both should be different players and people than they were when they last shared the court.

The Wizards' roster has also been overhauled around them. They have young players on the rise like Rui Hachimura, Troy Brown Jr. and Thomas Bryant.

"With where I've taken my game to him being a five-time All-Star, we can really grow our team and our young stars that we have in the making," Beal said. "I'm excited and I know the fans are too. It can't come any faster."

Stay connected to the Wizards with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.