With the 2020 NBA Draft less than two weeks away, there are rumors that prospect LaMelo Ball could slip in the draft. If he does, the Washington Wizards need to pounce.
2020 has been a year full of uncertainty. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has created confusion and changed how we all do just about everything, even the NBA Draft. With so many question marks surrounding workouts, dates, players draft stocks, and a whole bevy of other issues, we – and the Washington Wizards – may not know as much about the prospect as we usually do heading into the November 18 draft.
Over the past few months, there hasn’t truly been a consensus #1 pick, but most thought the top prospects would be Anthony Edwards (Georgia), James Wiseman (Memphis), and LaMelo Ball (Illawarra War Hawks).
However, even the draft stocks of this year’s top three prospects are in question. Most notably, LaMelo Ball could be slipping. According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Ball “is not performing very well at job interviews…He is not improving his perception via job interview.” Kevin O’Connor of the Ringer added that “many league sources believe (Ball) could fall out of the top three.”
Now, who knows how much truth there is to those rumors. It is still likely that Ball goes in the top three. However, if he does begin to slip, the Wizards are a team that needs to take advantage of his slide.
In his most recent mock draft, O’Connor had LaMelo slipping to #6 where the Wizards traded up to take him. The price: trading #9, #37, and Troy Brown Jr. to the Atlanta Hawks to draft Ball. Maybe the Wizards don’t make that exact move, but Ball is too good to pass up if he does start to fall.
Act Now Think Later
In the 2020 NBA Draft, the Washington Wizards are in a spot where they need to select the best player available. They do not have enough talent on the roster to look at players based on team needs.
Ball has one of the highest ceilings in this year’s draft. I think a lot of people would agree that talent-wise, Ball has a lot more to offer than players such as Devin Vassell or Isaac Okoro, who are in the Wizards current draft range. That is not to say that these two guys are not good players; Ball just seems to have more untapped potential and more star power.
If Ball begins to slip, he is the type of player the Wizards should make a move up for. Tommy Sheppard has said himself that the Wizards could look to move up, and it wouldn’t be surprising if this is the type of situation warrants an aggressive move for the GM heading into his second year at the helm.
Some people may ask, ‘How would Ball fit playing next to John Wall and Bradley Beal?’ and it’s a fair question, but that is not something to worry about right now. Take the best player available and figure it out down the line. Good players make things work.
Another question about bringing Ball to D.C. is, ‘Can he really help the Wizards win now?’ As trade rumors continue to swirl around Bradley Beal, it is starting to look more and more likely that Beal may want out if the Wizards do not perform well this season. So, does LaMelo help them enough right now?
The answer, in short, is yes. He instantly becomes another ball handler who can run an offense. Even on an off day, Ball is still a good enough playmaker to keep defenses on their toes. He clearly still needs to work on his shooting, though. Ball certainly isn’t scared of shooting the three. He averaged 6.7 three-point attempts per game during his time with the Illawarra War Hawks in the NBL. But he struggled to make them and shot just 25 percent from outside. However, being able to play next Bradley Beal, Davis Bertans, and Rui Hachimura should take the scoring pressure off Ball so that he play to his biggest strength; his passing ability.
Obviously, in the short-term, the Wizards need a few defensive-minded players to improve their horrendous defense from last season. Unfortunately, Ball isn’t a stud on that end of the floor. But I would rather have Ball, who can be a contributor and potential star for the next 5-10 years, than a defensive specialist who might be capped by playing on a win-now team like the Wizards next season.
LaMelo Ball might not be the best immediate fit for the Wizard next season, but if he begins to slip in the draft, his talent level would be way too good to pass up. The Wizards need to begin thinking about life after John Wall and Bradley Beal, and Ball is the type of talent that would be invaluable during such a transition.
Ball has the potential to be a cornerstone for a future team. Even if he never becomes that, though, he has enough tools to be a quality player that any team could use.
If things work, the Wizards can contend in the playoffs for the next few years led by a three-guard attack or with LaMelo coming off the bench as he adjusts to the NBA for a couple of seasons. Either way, his skill set will make him dangerous when Wall comes back healthy (finally!) and Bradley Beal continues to be his All-Star self (I’m still mad about this months later).
If things go south and the Wizards do not perform well, the Beal probably asks for a trade before the season is over. Regardless of where he might get traded, the Wizards will be well compensated. The compensation they receive for Beal, plus LaMelo Ball and Rui Hachimura, would be an interesting group moving forward in the post-Beal era.
Regardless of what happens, the Wizards can’t afford to pass on LaMelo Ball.