No matter which team is lucky enough to have the NBA ping-pong balls bounce its way tonight in the draft lottery, the decision should be simple.
Select LaMelo Ball with the No. 1 pick.
It’s clear that Ball has the most upside of any other prospect that could potentially be taken at the top of the draft. He’s the most skilled, most dynamic, and most experienced player in a relatively weak class.
Against grown men in Australia’s National Basketball League, Ball averaged nearly 17 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Ball used his 6-foot-7 size, handle, and playmaking ability to win NBL Rookie of the Year honors after only playing 12 games with the Illawarra Hawks, a team he now owns.
He averaged more assists than nearly every other guard prospect in the class and he has shown that he is not afraid to battle on the boards. Along with his natural ability to create shots for himself off the dribble, Ball is the most complete player in the 2020 draft class, and it’s not even close. He could be a walking triple-double once he gets his footing in the league.
Critics of Ball have said that his shooting percentages are a cause for concern — he only shot 38 percent from the field with his NBL team and 25 percent from three. However, his shooting percentage from downtown was 6 percent higher than his average during his last six NBL games.
While prospects like Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, Dayton’s Obi Toppin, and Memphis’ James Wiseman may also show promise because of their skill and physicality, their ceilings don’t compare to Ball’s.
Even if you are a team that already has a strong young backcourt and is looking to add a big, selecting Ball, who could be a superstar, will do nothing but help your organization rise from the gutter. The implementation of a three-headed monster in your backcourt that is orchestrated by Ball could be deadly.
This new era of NBA basketball is dominated by long guards who are extremely versatile and can make plays for themselves as well as teammates. If you have an opportunity to add a piece to your team who fits that mold, why would you pass that up?
The former Chino Hills guard, who has hooped all around the world in the last four years, has a skill set similar to stars like Luka Doncic — another player who played professional basketball as an adolescent just like Ball.
Like Doncic, Ball has the ability to control the game with his basketball IQ and creativity. If he is paired with a competent coach or backcourt veteran who will take him under their wing and teach him the NBA game, we could potentially see Ball become an All-Star within the next three years.
Not to mention Ball’s star power already overshadows his peers, thanks to his eccentric father, Lavar Ball, who made his sons — LaMelo, LiAngelo, and now Pelicans guard Lonzo — three of the most marketable teenagers in sports history.
LaMelo, who turns 19 two days after tonight’s Draft Lottery, will undeniably bring a new level of excitement and fanfare to whatever city he goes, with buzz that will rival the likes of Zion Williamson’s arrival in New Orleans last year.
It’s simple. LaMelo is the best player in this draft class with the highest upside and he’s one of the most marketable prospects in the last ten years.
An organization can’t lose with this pick.
I don’t care who gets the No. 1 selection on Thursday night.
LaMelo Ball should be the first name NBA Commissioner Adam Silver calls in October’s draft. It shouldn’t even be a debate.