Ask Sam Mailbag: How would LaMelo Ball fit on the Bulls?
Sam shares a mailbag conversation about prospect LaMelo Ball and his past season in the National Basketball League in Australia.
Remind Me Later •
LaMelo Ball probably is the biggest name, biggest question mark and biggest risk in this draft. He could be a star at the NBA's most important position these days, point guard. But perhaps with the biggest chance to bust among the top talent in this draft, a polarizing and risky draft choice with a potentially high ceiling. Which also is what the top of the draft is about. So I thought this exchange I had with Lachlan Everett, who covered the Australian National Basketball League, would be worth repeating since unlike the rest of us he's actually seen the kid play who just turned 19 and may be the story of the upcoming NBA draft.
Lachlan Everett: I was covering the NBL this last season and I think LaMelo Ball would fit the Bulls well (not defensively). He would be able to get Lauri and White opens shots and run pick and roll with Wendell while LaVine can be the primary scorer. I don't know how they would defend but who cares right? I think off the court Ball in Chicago would be a huge marketing thing for the Bulls #TheNextDance?
Sam Smith:I'd be fine with him given the Bulls needs and his apparent talent. I like him more than many and think he would provide the most excitement (attention?) of all the top draft picks. In earlier mock drafts, I was promoting he and Wiseman one/two in some order. I like his flair as a passer, but the shooting is an issue. His brother's lack of shooting is holding him back. What's your view as I've never once seen him play.
Lachlan Everett: He's a Ben Simmons, Steve Nash, etc type passer. But he lacks either the passion or is young and immature and doesn't defend man to man well. His shot selection (18 seconds on the shot clock and taking a contested 3) is very poor. But when he gets hot he is capable of scoring 30 and having a triple double against some decent NBL teams (Less then Euro league better than G-league). His brother has and will always be more timid as a shooter and scorer and was and will be a much better defender. Yes, he is definitely one of the most flashy players I've seen and is a pretty much a guaranteed highlight maker. Unfortunately he makes those highlights through gambling on defenses and poor shot selection and turnover prone dribbling.
Sam Smith: Would you take him ahead of Avdija or Toppin? He sounds risky to let him run a team. Do you prefer him ahead of the other top point guard, Haliburton, who is not as athletic but seemingly more stable?
Lachlan Everett: I think Deni is the safest pick. But I haven't done much research on him. I think with the Bulls lucking out getting 4th and being the quality of the draft class, I believe even if Ball isn't a super star he'll be a productive playmaker. And we both know the Bulls need playmaking. Also, the Bulls need a reason to be the talk of the town again. When was the last time the Bulls had a nationally televised/ ESPN game that mattered?
Sam Smith: That's also why I'm interested; to see what the new (executive) guys do. I don't think they care about being the talk of town. There's so much boom/bust potential with LaMelo. And in a big city media market, you probably can't control his wacky dad like they did in New Orleans.
Lachlan Everett: I think LaMelo has been actively distancing himself from his dad. So it may be a non issue compared to LA Lonzo.
Sam Smith: I tend to agree the dad isn't a reason to pass. I'd be more concerned about him basically never learning to play and being a gypsy player (leaving high school at 15 or 16 to play pro ball (in Lithuania) who probably has zero discipline. And without a shot you generally are not good enough to dominate in this NBA shooting era. I'd be scared to take him, but he would draw the most attention. Hopefully not like a car wreck.
Lachlan Everett: I think the concerns are more so on the court. Off the court, he's very appreciative and fun to be around according to his teammates and "Life of LaMelo Ball" by Mirin Fader. It would be more concerning if it was off the court issues, which it isn't for the most part. In an NBA team with an NBA coach, I think most of those issues could be ironed out.
Sam Smith: What happened on court with the team in Australia?
Lachlan Everett: He only played 12 games and had a foot injury that kept him out. They went 3-9 with Ball and went 5-23 for the season, though the team looked better without Ball. I've only heard rumors with no exact examples. But it was tense and Ball's injury was really played badly as he left without saying goodbye to a good amount of players and staff.
Sam Smith: Not a good look. Though I assume the Bulls are looking.
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