The long-awaited 2020 NBA Draft has finally finished with a lot of teams making surprise choices, and vaunted prospects dropping below where they were projected to be. Despite all the uncertainty with the draft, LaMelo Ball went where expected: within the top 3 to the Hornets. Going to the Hornets will let him cross paths with the legendary player and team owner Michael Jordan. Going to a team where the GOAT runs things could help Ball develop into a fine player.
LaMelo Ball has the talent and an environment that prepared him. It is only natural that he should succeed. While he has struggled with inefficiency in recent times, LaMelo Ball has all the potential in the world and can succeed in the NBA. Here are 5 reasons why LaMelo Ball will undoubtedly be one of the players in this draft that make it at the next level.
5. Defensive Upside
LaMelo Ball’s physical measurements suggest that he can do it all on defense at the NBA level. Ball is a big point guard, standing at 6’7 with a good wingspan. LaMelo Ball is another in the mold of oversized point guards similar to Ben Simmons or Shaun Livingston, ones who have usually been elite on the defensive end. With his brother also being known as a good defender, one hopes that the younger Ball can also show his defensive IQ during his career.
During his high school career in Chino Hills, LaMelo Ball was teammates with his brother Lonzo Ball, and on defense, they played an intensive pressing style. The focus would be on trapping the ballhandler and forcing turnovers. That bodes well for LaMelo Ball’s perimeter defense outlook. His larger frame would also let Ball stifle smaller guards while being a switchable defender onto forwards. If Ball follows the trends that he has shown previously, he projects to become an elite perimeter defender with switching ability.
4. Lack Of Culture Shock
Sometimes, newly drafted players take a while to adjust to life in the NBA: the lifestyle of a professional athlete is full of distractions, and it isn’t easy to tune them out all the time. However; LaMelo Ball has spent his time preparing for professional basketball. His father, LaVar Ball, pulled him out of high school to focus on his transition to the professional athlete life. Ball’s lifestyle has been tailored to his goal of playing in the NBA.
LaMelo Ball has spent time playing basketball professionally in Lithuania with BC Prienay and then with the Illawarra Hawks in the NBL. He has no lack of experience with a professional athlete’s life; Ball seems like he is ready for the tests that are about to come. Ball’s teenage years were spent hooping with grown adults: that’s some of the best prep you can get. Sometimes it is the intangibles that determine a player’s career: the fact that LaMelo Ball is used to playing professionally could be one of those intangibles that determine his success.
3. NBA Spacing
Some players don’t look as good playing in lower divisions due to their roster being underwhelming. If the rest of the roster is underwhelming, defenders can cheat off their assignments and double the best player on that roster. That presumed best player would also have to create their offense a lot, leading to some inefficiency.
LaMelo Ball has struggled shooting from the floor: people have bemoaned his weird jumper and his percentages. Despite that, an argument could be made that his abilities will fully be unlocked with NBA spacing: as a playmaker, having NBA caliber shooters could force defenders to stop keying in on Ball. The players in the NBA could make full use of Ball’s abilities, rather than some of them going to waste without the right caliber teammates to reap the benefits of his wizardry.
2. Usage Rate
On the Charlotte Hornets, LaMelo Ball will almost certainly be given the ball. The point guard will most likely get a steady diet of touches on a struggling Eastern Conference team with no other high-level prospects. Some players thrive when given only a sliver of opportunity; as a high pick on a struggling franchise, Ball will get more than enough. That could help his development and allow him to acclimate faster to the NBA.
In short, a lot of the time a player performing comes down to playing time. It is always a struggle for coaches to decide who gets valuable minutes on the court, and those who get more tend to see more success. LaMelo Ball will get a huge chunk of playing time; he will also get to be the full-time point guard. Big minutes combined with handling the ball full time could only lead to success. Ball got drafted at a good spot, and it’s up to him to make the most of it.
1. Pass-First Mentality
Like his brother Lonzo Ball, LaMelo Ball is a great passer. He has always been hailed for his playmaking, while still having the ability to shoot when needed. Essentially, he’s a pass-first player who can take over in the clutch with his shooting. That is the type of point guard that lasts in the NBA for a while. From Ricky Rubio to Jason Kidd, pass first, defensive point guards have made a name for themselves regardless of their talent and LaMelo Ball could do the same.
Having an unselfish playstyle can sometimes be detrimental: it can be harmful if you don’t shoot when you need to. Ball has an unselfish playstyle combined with the confidence to shoot the ball, even if inefficient. That type of mindset in itself is commendable and will only serve to help him in the NBA. Whether LaMelo Ball becomes a star or a role player is up in the air: he has all the tools to stay in the league for a very long time.