Is LaMelo Ball really worth all of the hype as a potential lottery pick to the New York Knicks?
Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of breaking down NBA lottery prospect LaMelo Ball’s game and potential fit with the New York Knicks, a quick story.
It was June 2009. I had a credential, but I was more fan than professional, ecstatic to have the opportunity to meet basketball’s next superstars: Blake Griffin. James Harden. Steph Curry. You also had soon-to-be ROY Tyreke Evans, trailblazer Brandon Jennings (first American to go “international one-and-done”), former Player of the Year and reigning National Champion Tyler Hansbrough, future All-Star Demar Derozan, and several other high-profile players from major NCAA programs.
There was a lot of star power, but the most popular table – more so than those of future Hall-of-Famers – belonged to Ricky Rubio. Journalists from all over the world swarmed him throughout the session. Flashes every time he smiled. Exaggerated laughter every time he said something even remotely funny. The attention was no surprise. The previous summer, he’d started – as a 17-year-old – against the Redeem Team in the Gold Medal game. He was 2009’s Luka, the prodigy (pro at 15, success in the 2nd-best league on the planet) that was going to take the NBA by storm.
If you read a pre-draft scouting report for Rubio, you’ll find scouts raving about things like vision, size for the position, IQ, feel…you see where I’m going with this.
Back to LaMelo Ball. Honestly, I’m not a LaMelo guy. Much of #KnicksTwitter has fallen in love with him, and many scouts share their belief in his star potential. But no matter how hard I try, I can’t see it. I’ve watched as much tape as I can get my hands on, including every second of his best pro game, and read countless articles and scouting reports – most of them glowing – and still, all I see is a 6’7 Rubio (minus the defense). Then I go on Twitter, find yet another image of Mitch and RJ with LaMelo photoshopped in between and…ugh.
I want to feel better about this. I want to be convinced that the hype is warranted. I want to know that if he does end up as a Knick, and he has what it takes to thrive there. Simply put, I want to believe. But I can’t get there alone. Enter Spencer Pearlman – wonderful scout, contributor at The Stepien, and former Draft Consultant for the Phoenix Suns.
Let’s find out why many scouts are so high on LaMelo Ball.