The 2020 NBA draft is fraught with uncertainty, even with the order finalized after Thursday’s lottery, but LaMelo Ball is expected to roll off the board in early October.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, Golden State Warriors, and Charlotte Hornets have each earned the top three picks respectively and any of them could end up taking the young guard.
Ball is considered to be one of the best prospects in the class, with Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman named him last season’s best prospect.
The 18-year-old has embarked on a strange path to the NBA. After starring at Chino Hills High School alongside his siblings, Lonzo and LiAngelo, LaMelo went to Lithuania to play professionally, followed by spells at the JBA, Spire Institute in Ohio and finally the Illawarra Hawks in Australia’s NBL.
The level of competition remained a question mark, but it was the former 5-star rookie’s last stop to prove he can be an elite player.
The ball showed the ability to fill the stat sheet with 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals per game against the older competition.
Teams that already have offensive-minded guards with a suspicious defense may shy away from Ball, including the Cavaliers, Hawks and Timberwolves. However, any of these teams could use any kind of offensive talent to turn things around after disappointing years.
The same could be said of the Chicago Bulls, who enlisted point guard Coby White with pick number 7 last season.
The Detroit Pistons (# 7) and New York Knicks (# 8) could both use Ball as they are desperate for offensive help and could both use a boost in star power, but it probably won’t last long enough.
If the Warriors keep their pick, they could use Ball as an additional element of depth in the drive to return to contending for an NBA title. He would eventually become the face of the franchise when they eventually transitioned from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
The Charlotte Hornets are already a heavy side with Terry Rozier and Devonte ‘Graham leading the team in scoring last year, but offensive prowess shouldn’t be discounted after they finished last in points per game and 29th in efficiency.
The ball would be the perfect addition to the number 3 to build on for years, as they previously did with Kemba Walker.
Pre-draft training, interviews, and medical examinations could greatly affect Ball’s draft inventory, but it’s hard to expect the guard to last beyond draft pick # 3.