2020 NBA Draft Prospect: Chicago Bulls Should Go All-In on LaMelo Ball

Chicago Bulls (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
Chicago Bulls (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images) /

Before turning 18-years-old, LaMelo made the key and unpopular decision to forgo college and turn pro overseas. Lonzo (oldest) and middle-brother LiAngelo, played at UCLA, so it was always linked that LaMelo would complete the trifecta.

LiAngelo’s career never really started at UCLA after being suspended for shoplifting before the season and his father, LaVar, took him out of the program completely. The Ball family grew up in Chino Hills, California about 50 miles from the Bruins’ campus, and all of that surely factored into LaMelo’s decision whether college was best for him.

It’s often forgotten that their father took LaMelo off his Chino Hills high school team because of a disagreement with their coach influencing him to go play in the Lithuanian pro basketball league for Vytautas with his brother LiAngelo.

That was cut short as players had a bad approach to the Ball brothers’ arrival, LaMelo underperformed at a young age, and LaVar got in the way of the coach — yet again. When LaMelo returned to Lithuania in a tournament as a player in the Junior Basketball Association (LaVar’s short-owned league), a  brawl ensued on the court and that was the last time LaMelo stepped foot in Lithuania.

All of that happened when he was 16-years-old and the Ball families’ whole trip to Lithuania was described and documented by journalist Donatas Urbonas. He covered the three-month fiasco and talked about it with USA Today’s For The Win.

Since then, Ball has grown as a player and person, while making more decisions on his own. He’s signed with Roc Nation Sports as Big Baller Brand (BBB) has crumbled, plus the decision to go play for Illawarra in the NBL then attempt to purchase that same team within a month of committing to the NBA Draft is not your average 18-year-old athlete’s motives. That’s why Jay-Z took him and his two brothers into his agency — putting him in the best hands possible.

In the video below, ESPN’s NBA draft analyst Mike Schmitz breaks down LaMelo Ball’s film with Ball himself. It’s an interesting watch, seeing where Ball is at mentality, physically, and how much his game has evolved since going pro in Australia.

In the video, Ball states he first dunked at 15-years-old and believes he will grow another few inches. He’s basically 6-foot-8 and if he grows another two or three inches he’d be closing in on Wendell Carter Jr. (6-foot-9) and Lauri Markkanen (7-foot) height-range.

Ball will certainly have to hit the weight room and pack on pounds being 181-pounds, but once NBA trainers get ahold of Ball and get into his daily regime, he’ll be fine. Even if he reaches 6-foot-10, 200-pounds, that would be solid considering his brother Lonzo is 6-foot-6 and 190-pounds and a disruptive force on defense. Brandon Ingram is another player with a similar build at 6-foot-7 and 190-pounds that use his slender frame to his advantage.

LaMelo won’t be the defensive presence his brother is, but the Bulls are looking for offense, and LaMelo provides a whole lot of that.

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