The 5 things LaMelo Ball will HAVE to improve on when he plays in the NBA

You may have seen that a number of media outlets are reporting LaMelo Ball as the potential #1 overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft.

That’s because the 6-7, 18-year old point guard has had a productive November in the National Basketball League. In those five November games, Ball has put up stellar numbers with averages of 23.2 points, 8.4 assists and 9.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals as he takes on the majority of the floor game for the Illawarra Hawks. Ball also recorded an impressive triple double against the Cairns Taipans with 32 points, 13 assists, and 11-rebounds.

LaMelo is a Great Prospect that Needs Work

The downside as of this writing is that Ball’s Illawarra team is 3–9 in the Australian league play and is the last place team; ninth out of nine teams. The team’s three wins? They were all against the Cairns Taipans, who is in sixth place in the NBL standings.

There’s no arguing that Ball’s numbers are fantastic, especially for a teenager playing in an professional league against  full grown adults and physical developed players. This is especially true in the Australian leagues where physicality is high. When compared to LaMelo’s high school basketball competition, it’s like placing a bet on MMA than it is wagering on hoops.

LeMelo will have to fix his high dribble

That said, the NBL is a great launching pad for Ball to get his professional basketball career started, but if and when he plays in the NBA, he has some severe, glaring weaknesses that he must improve on. The NBA isn’t just physical, it’s faster, smarter, and the most-skilled league in the world.

  • Shot Selection He’s had the green light for the Illwarra Hawks, his high school, and AAU teams, but Ball’s not going to be able to take the ridiculous shots he’s used to taking in the NBA. Partly because he’s an incoming rookie, and partly he’ll have a hard time getting his shot off. See below.
  • Speed Ball has the height, but his speed is something of a concern considering that he’ll be playing a position with the league’s fastest players. Not only will he relatively-slow feet be a concern on offense trying to get by defenders, but there’s an obvious defensive component, too.
  • Strength We know that Ball is only 18 years old, but if he’s one season away from playing in the NBA, he’s certainly going to have to bulk up that 180 pound frame sooner than later. If you agree that LaMelo lacks speed and quickness, then that’s compounded by his lack of strength. Some players that lack speed have strength to go through players, keep their balance and still get their shot off, Lamelo clearly is lacking there.
  • Handles Without the requisite quickness and strength comes another shortfall and that’s LeMelo’s ball handling. It’s not that he lacks the skills, we think he’ll need to not only tighten his dribble, but get lower when he does bring up the ball as Ball tends to have a dribble; something ball hawks like Paul George, Patrick Beverley, and Jrue Holiday will definitely expose.
  • Shooting Form. And as NBA Draft mentioned in their prospect profile, LeMelo’s shooting form needs tweaking. Set point on shot is a bit low and he tends to fade a bit at times. This is the least problematic weakness for LaMelo as many players, including his brother Lonzo, have worked to correct their shooting form.

The good news is Ball doesn’t lack the confidence. When asked by Yahoo Sports if he considered himself the #1 pick of 2020, he answered affiirmatively:

“Most definitely. I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get here. The other guys at the top of the draft, James [Wiseman] and Anthony [Edwards], are very talented too. But just in the way I believe in myself, I think I’m the top pick.”

Believing in yourself is great, but when the rubbers meets the road, we still think LaMelo has a lot of work to do.  Given a couple of our stated weaknesses will come with age (shot selection and strength), however Ball’s lack of speed, his ability to get by his defender with his handle and shooting over defenders may be a severe detriment on the next-next level and he’ll need to right some of those items in order to adapt and be effective against the superior speed, strength and defense of the NBA.

 

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