2019-20 stats: 17.0 PPG; 7.4 RPG; 6.8 APG; 1.7 SPG, 0.2 BPG; 37.7 FG%; 72.3 FT%; 45.9 True Shooting%; AST/TO: 2.73
LaMelo Ball is a bit different from his older siblings. The youngest of the Brothers Ball and arguably the most talented of the three, LaMelo is the tallest of the bunch and is also the only one to have played professionally before being selected in the NBA Draft.
He also quite possibly has the most talent in this draft and surely is the best ball-handling playmaker. But there are question marks surrounding his shooting and the potential baggage that comes with the Ball name.
So, if the Bulls even have a chance to nab LaMelo Ball, do they pick him? I will evaluate his potential fit on the Bulls and whether or not they should select him to begin with.
LaMelo’s biggest strength is his playmaking ability with the ball in his hands. He is very effective off of the pick-and-roll and his decision-making is superb. Ball averaged nearly eight assists per game in the NBL (Australia’s professional league) alongside an assist-turnover ratio of 2.73.
While Ball does need to hit the weight room, he possesses the ability to be a plus defender. This is due to his length. He stands at 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan. Those are freakish proportions.
Even though he does have all-world length at the point guard position, Ball will initially struggle to defend most of the point guards in the NBA. This will force him to guard slower players on the opposition. He’s also not the best team defender but could become one in the right system.
His main weakness, however, is his shooting. First, he simply has poor shooting stats — a true shooting percentage at 46% and just 25% beyond the arc. Second, his shooting motion has forced him to be primarily an off-the-bounce shooter, which is a reason for his poor shooting numbers to begin with.
But his shot selection is concerning and could make or break his shooting ability at the NBA level. He must improve that area of his game if he wants to be an elite point guard. The good news is that a shot is one of the easier basketball tools to fix with enough work in the gym.
Do the Bulls Draft Him?
The short answer is probably not, unless the Bulls elect to trade up for him. Ball is considered by many to be the most talented player in this draft. He may not go first overall to Minnesota, but I don’t see him remaining on the board past Charlotte’s selection. It is not impossible, but it is highly unlikely.
However, if Ball somehow does fall to #4, I would be surprised if the Bulls wouldn’t take him. He fits a need within the team — which we’ll touch on later — and he does have tremendous upside. He also brings a bit of professional experience already, which is certainly a plus.
On top of that, the Bulls have interviewed him, further cementing their interest in the point guard.
If the Bulls really want Ball, however, they may need to trade up for him. I believe both Minnesota and Golden State would both be interested in a trade with the Bulls. Arturas Karnisovas will most likely need to trade with one of those two teams as Charlotte will most certainly pick Ball if he’s on the board at #3.
Should the Bulls Draft Him?
It is hard to make the argument to not take Ball if he is on the board at #4. His ceiling is arguably the highest of any player in the draft. His basketball IQ is off the charts and if he improves his shot, he could be one of the top point guards in the NBA.
However, I say no. Of course, I will not know who is or is not on the board at #4 on draft night but there are players, including Isaac Okoro and Killian Hayes, I personally rank ahead of Ball. Yes, Ball is talented and he probably will be a good NBA player at the very least, but he is erratic at times and I’m not sure the Bulls need the potential distraction and baggage that comes with LaMelo’s father, although I think it would not be as distracting as when Lonzo entered the league.
If Selected, Does Ball Fit With the Bulls?
Yes, yes he does. That is why many believe that Ball should most certainly be selected if he falls to the Bulls at #4. And those people have a legitimate point. The Bulls, most likely, do not see Coby White as their point guard of the future. He certainly has shown he is more successful as a two-guard coming off the ball.
The Bulls do have Kris Dunn — one of the best defenders in the league — but he is a liability offensively. He is also a restricted free agent, another reason why many believe the Bulls are in the mix for a point guard.
Ball could be a catalyst to set up Coby White coming off screens and take the ball-handling load off of Zach LaVine. He will be able to find the open shooter and make effective decisions with the ball.
LaMelo would improve this Bulls team, there is no question about that. The only question is, will there be players who I think are better than Ball when Chicago picks at #4? To me, the answer is yes.