On December 17th, 2016, a video surfaced on Youtube showing a skinny, 5’10” Lamelo Ball dribbling the ball up the court. The freshman repeatedly pointed at the half-court line, as if he was trying to taunt the opposing team. Then, with both feet still behind the half, he effortlessly pulled up and drained a 42-foot jumper. The video quickly gained millions of views, shocking the basketball world and raising the same question in everyone’s mind: “Who is this kid?”
Fast forward four years, Ball has emerged as a player who can be the No.1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. In this article, we list five reasons why Ball will be the No.1 selection in this year’s draft.
#1. Passing Ability
Currently, Ball’s most elite skill is his passing ability. As the starting point guard for the Illawarra Hawks, Ball averaged an astonishing seven assists per game. It’s essential to keep in mind that he was playing for the worst team in the NBL.
If he had better teammates who could have finished off more of his passes, he most likely would average closer to 10 assists per game. Throughout the season, Ball put on full display his elite vision and playmaking ability, hitting teammates on point and in rhythm. Given NBA teammates, Ball will flourish as a playmaker. Looking into this year’s class, Lamelo is arguably the best passer in the draft.
#2. Scoring Ability
Ball has had his ups and downs with shooting efficiency, but at his core, he is a scoring guard. Albeit he is a streaky shooter at times, when Ball gets going offensively, he is difficult to contain. He has the strength necessary to shoot comfortably from far behind the three-point arc, and although his mechanics are unconventional, he has a smooth and quick release.
Ball has an elite floater package, which he relied on upon heavily in the NBL. He can blow by defenders with his tight handle and lateral quickness, and before the help defense can come, you will often see Ball come to a halt near the free-throw line to toss up a soft push shot.
#3. Maturity at a Young Age
Lamelo Ball has always played above his age group. As a result of his two older brothers, he always competed with players three years older than him. As a 5th grader, Ball played on his brothers’ 8th and 9th-grade team. As an 8th grader, Ball was the starting point guard for his high school team. As a 16-year-old, Ball played in an adult professional league in Lithuania.
As a 17 going on 18-year-old, Ball played in the NBL. You get the point. As a byproduct of this dynamic, Ball has adapted his game to play against bigger and stronger opponents. However, Ball is not a skinny high school player anymore. He’s 6’7″ with a solid frame, which actually will make him taller than most NBA point guards. Think of it like resistance training: his whole life; he has been playing at a physical disadvantage against much older players, forcing him to develop maturity on and off the court.
#4 Physical Attributes
Lamelo Ball is a 6’7″ point guard and is still growing. He is slowly but steadily putting on muscle, a clear indicator of his work ethic, and desire to reach an NBA-ready frame. Tall point guards have historically fit in well in the NBA. From Penny Hardaway to Ben Simmons, having elite guard skills at 6’7″ plus can be a massive advantage in the league.
#5. Room For Growth
This 5th and final point on the list is probably the most enticing for Ball; if he gets selected first overall, this will be the biggest reason why. To put it frankly, Lamelo has a relatively unpolished game. His shot-selection is sometimes questionable, his defensive instincts are raw, and his shooting efficiency is on the lower end.
What he does have are the untouchables, the high basketball IQ, the elite offensive instincts, and the desire to involve his teammates at all times. Combine Ball’s existing skillset with the refining of his weaknesses, and we’ll see a perennial all-star type player worth that No. 1 spot.