Many are split on whether LaMelo Ball is the best prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft. But no matter your opinion on the lengthy point guard hailing from the family known as the Kardashians of the basketball world, he is definitely the biggest wild card in this year's class.
Ball is not just a player that any team will be willing to draft because he's next on its big board. Committing to the soon to be 19-year-old will also ensure the services of his father Lavar. Still, one team will draft him, almost assuredly in the top five. It's just a matter of if the right team will pick him up.
There are so many differing opinions on how LaMelo will perform at the NBA level. Ball is one of two lottery American prospects in this class that bypassed the 'traditional' route to the NBA of playing in college basketball. Instead, the 6-foot-6 guard went to play in the NBL for the New Zealand Illawarra Hawks. Is playing professionally in one of the middle-tier leagues in the world better than playing stateside against Power 5 athletes? That's just the beginning of some of the questions surrounding the playmaker.
With the Hawks, Ball was typically the best player on the floor. Teams will be really excited about his basketball IQ and length that will allow him to be on the court with guard-heavy lineups. He averaged nearly seven assists a game, generating several scoring opportunities for his teammates. Naturally, he outrebounds for his possession and is also an aggressive defender at multiple spots.
The knock against the youngest Ball brother is his shooting. With nearly seven 3-point attempts a game, he only averaged a 25% clip from behind the arc. Few point guards in today's NBA can be successful without a perimeter game. Odd mechanics don't bode well for him being able to quickly develop out of it either.
That limits which team could ideally be a fit for Ball. They'll need to already have some roster balance at the guard and forward positions with other 3-point shooters. He'll also be best utilized with some reps running the point.
Looking at just the top ten teams here's who will likely have a fit for LaMelo.
Atlanta Hawks (Pick No. 6)
Wait, Atlanta already has a franchise point guard. Why would they take another? Trae Young has been phenomenal while with the Hawks, but a lot of the scoring burden has fallen on him quickly. This past season Young was gassed (35.3 mpg) with a high usage but averaged nearly 30 points a contest. Since Kevin Huerter can't quite take off some of the ballhandling duties from Young, a point guard that passes as much as Ball could alleviate that. Plus, there is already an ample amount of deep ball shooting on this team with Young, Huerter, John Collins and RJ Barrett. Ball would give Atlanta an extra dimension to the offense and highlight his strengths.
Phoenix Suns (Pick No. 10)
There's really no chance that the Suns will be picking and Ball will be on the board. The only scenario would be a trade, which Golden State has said they would be open to. Nevertheless, the Suns are in a similar spot to Atlanta. Devin Booker can play at the point, and thrived in that role while in the bubble, but that is not sustainable for a player of his caliber. Ricky Rubio is on the downside of his career and would be a great veteran to help fine-tune Ball's development. All it would do is bolster Booker's game with Ball drawing attention on drives and setting him up for kick-outs.
Golden State Warriors (Pick No. 2)
Even though it is reported that the Warriors are only interested in Anthony Edwards among the top three prospects, Ball could thrive in the Bay. For sure he would be an interesting depth piece that would be coming off the bench and doesn't exactly fit the mold for a Warrior, but there are already a plethora of shooters on that squad. He could play alongside Steph Curry and Klay Thompson while the one takes a rest on the bench. The door will be open for Ball to drive to the rim and have several options to find behind the arc.
Minnesota Timberwolves (Pick No. 1)
The Timberwolves also just acquired a young point guard that should be their franchise guy for a while in DeAngelo Russell. Still, Minnesota needs bodies and playmakers. Ball won't clutter their depth chart but also won't fix their 3-point woes. Last season they were bottom three in 3-point percentage but one of had the third-most attempts. In a perfect scenario, the T-wolves can get an elite wing scorer to go with that backcourt. However, they will need a plan in place if they pass on Edwards for Ball.
Ball is one of the few prospects in this class projected to be a potential 'franchise-player.' It's hard to imagine him falling outside of the top three picks.
The Washington Wizards could also be in a spot similar to Golden State to try and fit Ball, but the team lacks the capital to make a trade into the top three. He would also be a nice insurance policy if there are any issues with John Wall coming back from his injury.
Sure there are questions on Ball's game, but so is there for Edwards and fellow top-three prospect James Wiseman. In the perfect environment, he could quickly become a star in the NBA and build off his strengths rather than adjust to a new team.