Potential No. 1 pick LaMelo Ball declared 2020 NBA Draft

LaMelo Ball is a presumptive lottery pick with the potential to go No. 1 overall in the 2020 NBA draft, scheduled to take place June 25.

The 18-year-old point guard made headlines on Monday when ESPN’s Jonathan Givony reported that he, along with his older brothers, Lonzo and LiAngelo, plan to sign an agreement with Roc Nation Sports.

“This was a family decision,” Jermaine Jackson, LaMelo’s agent, told Givony. “This is now an extended family. They put together a beautiful game plan with Jay-Z. The basketball game is about to change. They are going to create something totally new.”

The first order of business for the youngest Ball will be landing with an NBA team.

The Washington Wizards emerged as a possibility when NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes reported on Friday that the organization “did their due diligence on Ball this season, sending multiple people to Australia to scout him in-person as well as hiring a scout based full-time in the area.”

Ball averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8. assists and 1.6 steals in 31.3 minutes across 12 games for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League during the 2019-20 season before his campaign was cut short by a foot injury:

The foot issue prevented the New York Knicks from getting a closer look at Ball, Marc Berman of the New York Post reported on Jan. 18: 

“According to a source, the Knicks never got a chance to see the 6-foot-7 guard play live Down Under. Brass had plotted the trip for this month. In Ball’s last two games in the Australian National Basketball League in late November, he struck for consecutive triple-doubles. Par for the course.”

Ball’s injury-riddled season plus the league’s altered pre-draft process due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis could impact his draft stock. “Where is the No. 1 pick?” an anonymous Eastern Conference executive told Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher. “There is no ‘guy.’ This is a weird draft that way.”

Additional time to see Ball and other top prospects in person could have clarified that.

“NBA executives say they’d feel more comfortable selecting him if they could study him in person when he talks about the anticipated involvement of his father, LaVar Ball, who became persona non grata with the Lakers after they drafted one of his other sons, Lonzo, three years ago,” Bucher wrote.

An anonymous Eastern Conference general manager added to Bucher that “most NBA people” were expecting to be able to go back to Australia and watch LaMelo play more.

That said, Ball has largely been paired with Georgia guard Anthony Edwards as the top two prospects in the 2020 class. Operating under the assumption that Ball will go either first or second overall, Tankathon has the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers or Minnesota Timberwolves with the best odds to land him. Each team has 14 percent odds for the No. 1 overall selection and 13.4 percent odds to pick at No. 2.

Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman listed the Warriors and Timberwolves among teams that would be good fits for Ball. The Knicks made the list as a bad fit because, in part, of how few trade assets New York has to rebuild the roster in a hurry and surround Ball with the proper cast to get the most out of him.

As for the Wizards, targeting Ball would almost certainly signal the end for John Wall in Washington. The 29-year-old five-time All-Star, who went No. 1 overall in 2010, has yet to return from a ruptured Achilles suffered in February 2019.

It’s also possible that Ball be designated as a complementary piece to Wall, whose four-year, $171.1 million contract runs through 2023, and Bradley Beal.

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