The Charlotte Hornets have selected LaMelo Ball with the No. 3 pick of the 2020 NBA Draft. The pick is the culmination of a years-long odyssey to get Ball, brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, into the NBA. Ball played for two different high schools in the United States, Chino Hills and Spire Academy, as well as two foreign teams, BC Prienai in Lithuania and the Illawarra Hawks in Australia, on one of the most unconventional paths to the NBA any top prospects has ever taken.
As unorthodox as his upbringing might have been, nothing could scare teams off of his prodigious talent. Ball, a 6-7 point guard, is one of the best passers ever to enter the NBA Draft. He shares his brother’s gift for showmanship in transition, but pairs it with a far more functional arsenal of half-court passes that should make him an effective pick-and-roll ball-handler from the moment he steps on an NBA floor.
Ball’s passing is the main attraction, but his upside as a scorer is what made him a top pick. He is a gifted ball-handler, and at his size, he should be able to attack the basket effectively, and while his shooting form is as funky as his brother’s, he projects as at least a passable long-range marksman. That size offers an enormous upside for a guard defensively. That hasn’t translated on the floor quite yet, and his shot-selection needs work, but Ball’s raw talent made him a clear top pick in this class.
The fit in Charlotte is a bit strange. Terry Rozier and Devonte’ Graham are already in place as the starting backcourt. But the Hornets aren’t in a position to turn away talent. They needed a star, a face of the franchise to replace Kemba Walker. Now, in Ball, they might have that player. He instantly becomes the most marketable player that the Hornets have had since the Bobcats era.
Draft Grade: A+
Ball was my No. 1 prospect in this draft class. This was a no-brainer. Charlotte has good guards, but Ball has the potential to be a star. There are lots of things to be improved — defense first on the list — but if he becomes the best version of himself, he will be the best player in this draft class. He is a 6-6/6-7 point guard who can play off the ball, but you want to keep the ball in his hands because of his creativity.