And the Thunder Select: LaMelo Ball
With a bounty of draft picks from the 2019 Tradepocalypse summer, the Thunder will be scouting young prospects at the top of recruiting and draft classes once again. Daily Thunder will keep you informed on whether those players look like good targets for Oklahoma City.
LaMelo Ball is a polarizing prospect in the 2020 NBA draft. If you go by Twitter reactions, the thoughts on him are about 50/50 in terms of good and bad. Many people don’t like him and many people think he will be a great NBA player.
So let’s breakdown Ball and see if he could be a fit in OKC. Judging from how OKC is playing, they would have to trade up to be in a position to draft him as he is looking like a top-5 selection. OKC has more than enough assets to make that happen.
Sam Presti’s bread and butter is drafting and developing. It’s a route that has worked in the past as he built OKC from the ground up. Since we’re about to begin a new era to try and repeat that first segment, could Ball be part of that?
Here is one thing OKC steers away from: drama. They keep a lot of stuff internal and don’t like to let things slip to the media. Look no further than Kevin Durant and how much he has changed since leaving OKC; the PR team is the best in the business.
A lot of people judge LaMelo off of his father. They don’t see the talent, they just know the name LaVar Ball and their mind is already made up. It’s a sad reality, because what they’re missing is an 18 year old kid that is doing big things already professionally.
But get this, how much of LaVar have people actually heard lately? The answer is not much, he has kept relatively quiet and isn’t saying a lot these days.
Was he loud? Yes. But it was for his business – he built an entire brand and his sons helped hype it up. Now he seems set on watching his kids grow while staying out of the light for a while.
Don’t let his dad get in the way of casting your judgment on the kid. He is talented and his court vision is already elite at the age of 18. He has the ability to be very good and continues to grow his game.
He is very lanky, grew at an absurd rate, and isn’t even at the end of it yet. It is quite possible he’ll be a 6’9 point guard in the future. Once he gets to the NBA he will get on an intense training program to build his frame.
One thing that he already possesses at an NBA level is his vision and passing. He makes incredible passes all over the floor and seems to always have more than one set of eyes. He knows when to dart passes or hit a defense with a bounce pass.
He keeps defenses guessing and is aware of each defender on the court. His handles are really good so he can get to his spots and make any pass he desires. He will even get crafty with his dribbles too and possesses a dribble package far ahead of his age.
He can also create his own shot with his dribble moves and in the NBA that’s a big quality to have. He can break down a defense with that trait alone and knows to set guys up. His strength is dribbling into the lane and putting up a floater, where his touch is already elite.
His shooting can come in spurts. Once he sees one go in he could start lighting it up from anywhere on the court. I mean the kid once pulled up at 15 years old pointed at half-court and nailed a shot in a game, so his confidence has always been up there as well.
His mechanics are still an issue; although he will hit his shots, that flick shot will not work in the NBA. It is shot at too low of an angle and guys are very smart in the NBA. Coaches will find a way to attack that. Once he gets drafted, a shooting coach will need to work with him to find a higher release point as Jermaine Jackson is doing now.
Ball tends to shoot in volume, and sometimes falls in love with his jumper. He will continue to shoot until he sees one go and that can hurt his game. Since he can get to his spots on the floor whenever he wants with his ball-handling ability, he needs to learn to decipher between the two.
His athleticism is average, he doesn’t have the ability to go above the rim and beat guys. He has a crafty style to his play. Don’t expect him to have many poster dunks in his career or out jump guys in the NBA.
His defense is also up-and-down. He will get his fair share of steals but can he be an above average defender in the NBA? We haven’t seen him in an intense defensive setting. He has the length to do it, but can he show he has the mindset to succeed on that end?
Many media outlets have said that he is not coachable as well. I tend to disagree because there has not been any evidence to prove that. I believe once he gets to the NBA he will be very humble and hopefully will get into a situation suitable for him with a good coaching staff. A small market without the bright lights could prove very beneficial for him.
Chris Paul currently is the starting point guard of the Thunder. But how long will that be the case? His name has been brought up in a lot of trade rumors since the summer. So one has to think at some point he will be dealt if the right deal comes along.
The Thunder’s backup and a candidate for that 6th Man of the Year award in Dennis Schröder is quickly upping his trade value as well. So let’s say both of those point guards get dealt. That leaves a huge hole at point guard for OKC.
One might argue it’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander that steps up and takes that role. But what if he doesn’t and OKC finds his fit as a two-guard better for the team? Bringing in someone with elite court vision that can run a team with a dynamic ability to stretch a defense would be good.
That answer is, quite simply, LaMelo Ball. Let’s face it, OKC is not going to get a top-tier free agent. They will have to draft and trade to get their talent and there aren’t many more talented players that you will see come along than Ball.
If you have the opportunity, I believe you should make the trade up to get him. You can run a Ball, SGA and Darius Bazley trio and still make a trade for a star to look into the future with kids like Emoni Bates and Bronny Jr. People don’t like to hear about kids in high school right now, but the fact of the matter is Presti is thinking that far ahead with these picks and so should you.
Let’s top it off with LiAngelo Ball being in OKC at the recent Blue game. Also with Lonzo Ball being in New Orleans, they aren’t trying to be center of the biggest markets anymore; the boys just want to play basketball. So don’t let the big market talk and what’s gone on in the past sway your decision either.
What will it take?
OKC has all the assets needed to make a deal. It’s just a matter of how much they will need to give up to get Ball. Let’s say worst case scenario he goes at number five.
Let’s also say OKC drafts at 13; that would mean they would need to move up eight spots to get there. More than likely the Nuggets pick they received for Jerami Grant will fall at 25 or later. What if they packaged 13 and 25 and a future protected first?
I think that would be more than enough to get the job done and bring OKC a young talented point guard. They could even keep CP3 around a year to mentor him with no damage to the cap. OKC has many options and they will explore every route.
Getting someone with the talent of Ball would be enormous for this team. Many don’t like him, but his game is really fun to watch. If Presti has the opportunity to get him on draft night, I believe he is worth the long-term risk. Just watch and enjoy this clip to finish it off.