The New York Knicks have lost their opportunity to scout LaMelo Ball due to a season-ending foot injury, but it doesn’t matter.
A consensus number one pick? That’s a stretch; I’m sure James Wiseman and Anthony Edwards have something to say about that. Even if LaMelo Ball isn’t the first pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, it won’t matter. It looks as though the New York Knicks want him, or at least the media is making it out to be that way and we all know how big of an influence New York media has on its sports teams.
Despite missing the chance to scout him, they have all the footage they need to know Ball is a hot commodity in this year’s lottery and that he’ll more than likely be the best of his brothers. Despite the National Basketball League’s Illawarra Hawks saying their point guard could only miss four weeks from his bruised foot, he elected to prepare for the 2020 draft instead of finishing out the NBL season. He made a business decision and didn’t want to get hurt before his jump to the NBA. I don’t blame him.
So, let’s say, wherever the Knicks fall in the top three because it looks as though they’ll be sitting there by the end of the year barring a huge turnaround, they land Melo. That pick alone pushes New York to a legitimate contender for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference because of the attributes Ball is able to bring to the court.
He’s a 6’7 point guard who’s an incredibly flashy passer, always makes the highlight reel in any game, and has molded his overall scoring to more than just a streaky shooter. Perfect for the Mecca. He plays fast, and like his brothers, pushes the floor in transition better than most. To be quite honest, it’s hard to find many players with the full court vision that the Ball brothers have.
Incorporating Melo into this current Knicks team also makes them one of the tallest teams in the NBA. Crazy to think about, but RJ Barrett would be the shortest player in the starting five standing at 6’6 if LaMelo is starting at the one. They would be lacking at the center position for height, as Taj Gibson is only 6’9, but I fully expect the seven-footer, Mitchell Robinson, to take that starting job next season. That one change, along with the inclusion of Ball, makes them one of the toughest teams to guard in the league.
Not only does Ball help them from a pure basketball perspective, but he’d be huge for the media. Lonzo Ball already said he thinks his 18-year-old brother would flourish in a big city like New York and I’d have to agree with him.
All the eyes have been on LaMelo ever since he was playing Chino Hills Varsity basketball with his brothers as a 13-year-old. It didn’t change when he played in Lithuania and it’s stayed the same when he moved to the NBL in Australia. That’s one thing I must credit their father, Lavar, on. Say what you want about him, but he got his kids ready to play in front of the big lights at an absurdly young age.
Speaking of Lavar, he’s been relatively quiet since all of his boys started playing some form of semi-pro or pro ball. You would think that would make LaMelo start to fizzle out in the media, due to the fact that he alone is not a brash, outspoken individual, but his play has heightened the attention on him to its highest point even without the hype of his old man.
In the NBL, which again, is a professional basketball league, Ball has done more than just hold his own. His 17 points, 6.8 assists, and 7.6 rebounds a game for the Hawks has made him the most talked-about name in Australia and he hasn’t even had a full first season in that league.
He’s one of the highest-selling jerseys in the NBL, he’s a celebrity over there, and he’s proven he can play on a professional level with high caliber players. With added experience, he’ll be able to translate his game to the NBA and improve upon his shooting percentage and defensive weaknesses.
This is a prototypical player for a team like the Knicks. They need a showman back in Madison Square Garden and this is their best chance to get one. They don’t need Wiseman, they’re set with Robinson and they have Barrett, which makes me believe that Edwards is off their board too. It’s a must that they draft him and they’ll trade up if they really want to make it happen, which I think they do.
It’s a paradise matchup for both parties and it’s one that’ll not only put butts in seats at MSG but make the Knicks themselves a much better team for it.