LaMelo Ball has been a curious prospect ever since his idiot father LaVar pulled him out of high school for a barnstorming tour of Europe and Australia in lieu of a proper basketball education either in the NCAA or in a legitimate Euroleague team’s youth program.
That’s not to say Ball can’t…well, ball, but like his brother Lonzo Ball there are serious questions that remain unanswered about whether the bad habits he learned from his father during the formative years when his raw basketball talent turned into an NBA contract justify spending a high-lottery pick on him.
After all, Lonzo went second overall in 2017, and his career has featured three seasons of nearly identical Win Shares per 48 minutes…hovering between .052 and .058, consistent with the kind of player who gets rotation minutes on a 24-win team. His Lakers and Pelicans teams have averaged about 10 more wins than that, so Lonzo has been a below-average player by the standards of bad teams.
Which is all just a way-too-many-words way to say Lonzo sucks.
Lonzo can’t shoot, he guns for counting stats but lacks the court vision and the nose for a rebound that makes Russell Westbrook so good at getting triple doubles, and any defensive prowess Ball may have had coming into the league has evaporated as he’s become a steadily worse defender when measured by Defensive Box Plus-Minus in each of his three years in the league.
All of this is broadly consistent with an athletic talent who, for whatever reason (*cough*LaVar*cough*), brings both an immaturity and an uncoachable ego into the locker room.
Lonzo was drafted second overall. If he’d been drafted 32nd, as in second round, he might have been humble enough to find his stroke, but his going with the No. 2 pick led his bombastic idiot father to overhype his prospects in the league and get Lonzo run out of Los Angeles in as much time as it took LeBron James to realize that trading four guys who belong in the G-League for Anthony Davis is a good way to win a title.
Sorry, Brandon Ingram, but gaudy counting stats do not a good player make, especially when you can’t guard my dead grandmother.
This lengthy aside into the sins of his older brother encapsulates why LaMelo Ball is destined to be a draft bust. Game film from Australia shows a hitchy, off-balance, wildly inconsistent jump shot that won’t fly in the Association. And when a shooting and mechanics coach tries to teach Ball how to play basketball the real way and not the atrocious-dad-coach LaVar way, we’re looking at a kid who’s going to morph overnight into the worst of Markelle Fultz‘s tribulations in Philadelphia.
Yeah, Fultz appears to be getting himself right mentally, and good for him and for the Orlando Magic, but I’m not seeing LaMelo having the maturity or selflessness required to nip that in the bud before it kills his career.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that LaMelo will also be a defensive liability in the NBA, unlike his brother, who is at least a plus defender even as his defense gets worse the more he plays.
And yet the Minnesota Timberwolves look poised to make LaMelo the first overall pick, a situation that has the potential to land somewhere between Mike Olowokandi and Anthony Bennett.
If Lonzo’s trials and tribulations playing for a disaster movie of a Lakers franchise (before they turned it around, that entire organization was a joke post-Kobe) and for an even worse organization in New Orleans have shown us the dangers of talent trying to blossom in the wrong environment, the Minnesota Timberwolves, a longtime league laughingstock that looks to be wasting Karl-Anthony Towns‘ career the way it wasted Kevin Garnett‘s prime, have “massive draft bust” written all over them if they end up being LaMelo’s destination.
If you thought Andrew Wiggins was bad, wait until Minnesota throws a max at LaMelo in four years’ time.
Sure, LaMelo Ball might be great. He might be the next Russell Westbrook, he might be the next Steph Curry, he might be Jesus H. Christ Himself reborn.
But more likely, his insanely low floor—like Olowokandi/Kwame Brown/Anthony Bennett-level low floor—make this the single dumbest risk-reward play the Timberwolves could possibly make even in what’s admittedly a draft class that looks as bad as the garbage fires that were 2000 and 2013.
I firmly believe LaMelo Ball is going to suck. His brother sucks. His basketball development before heading into the pros sucks. His dad sucks. And the team that’s most likely to pick him sucks.
No good can come of this.