An NBA draft full of question marks just got another around projected lottery pick LaMelo Ball.
His journey through the Ball family gantlet saw him quit high school in California to play overseas in Lithuania before a short prep stint in Ohio and eventually landing with the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s NBL.
It appears to have paid off with Ball being widely projected as a potential No. 1 pick.
Ball’s NBL season is over
But evaluators hoping to see more of the 6-7 shooting guard are out of luck. A bone bruise that he suffered in December has continued to linger, and his NBL season is over, his manager Jermaine Jackson told ESPN.
Which means all the tape that’s going to be in on Ball is in, and scouts who haven’t developed a complete picture of Ball will have to work with what they’ve got.
Scouts haven’t watched Ball live in Australia?
According to the ESPN report, that could be problematic. Per the report:
Most NBA decision-makers did not have an opportunity to evaluate Ball in person during his time in Australia.
The upcoming draft is an intriguing one with no consensus No. 1 overall pick. James Wiseman, the 7-1 center who briefly played for Memphis before conflicts with the NCAA became too much, is a top candidate. As is 6-5 Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards, who’s responded to a tremendous amount of hype to average 19.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists as a freshman with the Bulldogs.
Any of the three could be the No. 1 pick in a draft that sees most lottery projections, including injured North Carolina guard Cole Anthony and Duke forward Vernon Carey, constantly shuffling on draft boards.
What does this mean for his draft status?
Will Ball’s season-ending injury be problematic for his draft prospects?
He’s far from a sure thing, and reported questions about his work ethic and obvious concerns about the drama attached to being LaVar Ball’s son still linger. The reported lack of live evaluation from NBA scouts doesn’t help.
His talent and upside will be an undeniable draw to teams picking near the top of the draft. But will lingering concerns prevent him from being the first name called?
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