LaMelo Ball was a mere afterthought when his brother Lonzo entered the league in 2017. Lonzo was one of the most hyped prospects of the last 10 years. Thanks to his father Lavar’s constant drumming and his fortuitous landing with his hometown Los Angeles Lakers, Lonzo seemed like the Chosen One.
While he could still carve out a noteworthy NBA career, it’s starting to look more and more like his brother was the true prodigy all along. LaMelo Ball has been lighting up his international competition this year.
One of the main reasons Luka Doncic was considered a generational talent before playing an NBA game was because he was balling against professional adults overseas. In his final year with Real Madrid, Doncic put up solid numbers of 12.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game. In his first season in the NBL Australia league, LaMelo Ball is putting up 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists.
Those numbers are misleading because it seems like Ball is just starting to hit his stride. Over his last four games, the 6-7 point guard is averaging an absurd 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 9.3 assists. NBL commissioner Jeremy Loeliger told the Sun-Herald:
LaMelo Ball has had the biggest impact on this league that any player has ever had.
While the odds of him having a sophomore NBA season on Luka’s level are extremely low, the numbers don’t lie.
Strictly on paper, he looks better than Doncic did at this point in his career. That’s why the 18-year-old ranked as the top prospect in espn.com‘s 2020 mock draft.
The espn.com mock draft had the Knicks taking Ball with the first overall pick next year. It just so happens that no team in the NBA needs a good point guard as badly as the Knicks. They haven’t had an all-star point guard since Mark Jackson got the nod over 30 years ago.
In the last decade, New York has tried filling the gaping lead-guard hole with role players like Toney Douglas, Jerian Grant, and Raymond Felton. They’ve whiffed on post-prime veterans like a 39-year-old Jason Kidd or 34-year-old Chauncey Billups. This season they’ve been trying to scrape production from Dennis Smith Jr, Frank Ntilikina, and Elfrid Payton. It hasn’t been working. They’re currently tied for last in the league with 20 assists per game.
LaMelo would finally give them give the dynamic playmaker they’ve lacked for decades. Paired with recent draftees RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Kevin Knox, Knicks fans would get their first taste of hope since Carmelo Anthony was winning legitimate Player of the Week honors.
Of course, they could easily miss out on the top lottery picks and grab yet another power forward. Golden State could luck their way into the top position and secure their future while bringing their stars back to dominate the present. Either way, teams will be giddy at the prospect of adding LaMelo Ball to their roster.