Team: Illwarra Hawks
Date of Birth: August 22nd, 2001
Height/Weight: 6’8, 165 lbs
LaMelo Ball is a 6’8 point guard with impressive ball handling skills and court vision coupled with his tall/slim frame. Ball is an offensive facilitator where he has the potential to have a lengthy career in the NBA and become the face of a franchise. He has the skill-set as a ball handler and passing acumen necessary to be a premier distributor at the next level.
His elite handle makes him extremely difficult to contain. With his quick first step, Ball can get to the rim with ease. His first thought is always to hand it off to an open teammate when he draws the help. That has become more and more common for LaMelo Ball as he has matured through the years. Ball knows how to keep the ball low in tight spaces where he can get to his spots on the floor, creating more open passing lanes for players around him.
Ball is at a height which we don’t see often for a point guard. Running the point at that height gives him an obvious advantage in terms of being able to see more open passing lanes coupled with the opportunity to shoot over smaller guards. Live dribble passes we see from guards such as Trae Young where he penetrates the paint getting the big man to switch on him so he can then feed his teammate are the types of passes we are also being able to see from Ball.
Ball has a very soft touch around the rim. His natural touch comes from playing against older players and he had to figure out a way to score against taller players at an early age. He has a nice floater that he uses quite often that he likes to put a good amount of loft on to prevent any defender from getting a touch on it.
An underrated strength Ball has is his ability to get transition points and lead his team on the fast break. He is great at running the floor and almost always makes the right decision with the basketball. His transition reads also allow for him to lob to open players when needed and that touch I had mentioned before is shown in those soft lobs to teammates.
Lastly, LaMelo Ball is a supremely talented finisher. The touch is there, but also are his dribble moves. Whether it is a spin in the lane or wrapping the ball around his back to keep it away from the defender, he has the full capability of retaining the ball. That is one reason as to why he rarely turn the ball over despite his high assist numbers.
On the defensive side, LaMelo Ball does not use his length to his advantage. He has decent lateral quickness, but does not always show it on that end. Another thing with Ball, he sometimes can get caught up in overplaying or going for a steal that often ends in him getting beat off the dribble. Though his height is an advantage on offense, it can also be seen as a disadvantage for defense when Ball plays smaller and stronger guards. He will definitely need to work on his defensive fundamentals in the NBA.
While the finishing is great, the shooting is not fantastic. The shot isn’t a major concern for me (although some people see it as one). During his time with the Illwarra Hawks, Ball only shot 28% from 3, but did show some promise on catch and shoot opportunities. I’d like to see him start to feel more comfortable being aggressive in the mid-range given his ability to shoot over defenders. For now, as mentioned, he usually just defaults to his floater.
His shot selection will have to be better. While Ball is generally looking for an open teammate, the shots he does choose to take aren’t always the best ones. He can sometimes get stuck in forcing up shots that he doesn’t have to force up. For NBA teams, the shot selection will be a major point they would want to work on with LaMelo.
Weight plays a tremendous role in basketball. Ball is currently only listed at 165 lbs and he will need to pick up more muscle or he is greatly in danger of getting bullied on both ends of the court. Gaining at least 20 lbs will help him to not seem fragile.
LaMelo Ball has been in the spotlight since his freshman year of high school. His father stated that out of his three sons, Melo would be the best. Ball is fit for the big lights and spotlight and has matured a lot from when we first witnessed him playing.
Ball will be a Top 5 pick in this NBA Draft and he will be an asset to any team that drafts him. There is a very good argument that can be made that he is actually ahead of Anthony Edwards for the top pick in this draft.