The Rise and Fall of LiAngelo Ball

LiAngelo Ball got a training-camp roster invite from the Detroit Pistons and managed to rack up one DNP-CD in a preseason game before the Pistons sent him packing Monday morning.

Unlike his established older brother Lonzo Ball and his highly-touted Charlotte Hornets third-overall draft pick LaMelo Ball, “Gelo” never quite had the talent or the chops necessary to stick in the NBA.

Which…let’s face it, inviting him to camp in the first place was a publicity stunt. How big would an NBA roster have to be in order for Gelo to make it?

Would it be the 40-man roster of Major League Baseball, where 15 of those 40 players are stashed in the minors like the equivalent of an NBA two-way contract with the G-League?

Maybe pro football, with its 53-man active roster plus practice squad?

Or how about college football, where the NCAA allows Division I Football Bowl Subdivision teams 85 scholarship athletes for that sport? Could Gelo make an NBA roster so big that it’s enough to cover nearly six full 15-man squads under current rules?

Nah. He sucks. And Detroit quickly recognized that not only does LiAngelo Ball suck, he doesn’t even suck in a “we can coach the idiot ideas his street-hustler dad drilled into him if we let him play in Grand Rapids” sort of way.

How bad is LiAngelo Ball?

Remember that whole Lithuanian misadventure a few years back? How LaVar and his Big Baller Brand invaded the beloved-by-this-site Lietuvos Krepsinio Lyga (that’s “Lithuanian Basketball League” in English, and “Krepsinio” is just an awesome word for basketball in any language) and destroyed an entire franchise while there?

BC Prienai, a team that plays in the city of the same name about 20 miles outside Kaunas, making them kind of like the old New Jersey Nets were to New York before they moved to Brooklyn, was sixth in the 10-team LKL when the American clown show arrived for the 2017-18 season.

Prienai ended up finishing dead last and nearly getting relegated out of the top flight—the only reason they got to stay in the LKL was because the team that won the second-tier NKL and would’ve taken their place didn’t qualify for the top flight.

For American perspective, imagine a decent low-mid-tier team, a squad like the Orlando Magic have been for the past couple of years or the Charlotte Hornets were while Kemba Walker was still there. Not great, not even all that good, but respectable.

Now imagine they sign a free agent who is such a complete disaster that they turn into the 2016 Philadelphia 76ers overnight.

That’s what LiAngelo Ball did to Prienai. He Processed them. And there ain’t no Joel Embiid on the outskirts of Kaunas.

But wait. It gets better.

Prienai got back up to seventh place in 2019 and finished sixth in 2020—the same level they were at before the Big Baller Brand idiot caravan came into town and blew up the franchise.

If that’s not an indictment of not just LaVar Ball—whom I mostly don’t talk about because this site is about stuff that’s actually important—but of LiAngelo as well, it’s hard to find a better example.

And the NBA is not Lithuania, no matter how cool guys like Domantas Sabonis and Jonas Valanciunas are.

The Pistons figured this out quickly and mercifully pulled the plug.

Now it falls to Charlotte to see if the youngest Ball brother is even as good as his oldest brother Lonzo—all .055 WS/48 of him—or if instead he’s going to turn out to surpass Charlotte’s other massive third-overall-pick draft mistake, good ol’ Adam Morrison from 2006.

Either way—and excuse the worst pun this site’s ever made—Ball don’t lie.