There have been rumours swirling for months about the Toronto Raptors trading up to select LaMelo Ball, a projected top pick in November’s 2020 NBA Draft.
The 19-year-old Ball, son of the infamous LeVar Ball and brother to Lonzo Ball, has had a rollercoaster basketball career so far. In 2018 he left high school early to play in Lithuania, then joined his family’s Junior Basketball Association — which ceased operations in 2019 — then moved to New Zealand to play professionally last year with the Illawarra Hawks. Despite all of it, he’s expected to be among the top choices in the draft, projecting as an exceptionally skilled point guard.
“Ball isn’t a fit for every team, but his rare combination of size, ball-handling and passing chops make him arguably the draft’s most entertaining player and one with a clear pathway to being a starting point guard,” Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo wrote. “There remains a degree of skepticism in league circles, surrounding his haphazard jump shot as well as his almost overly pronounced showmanship. Bottom line, Ball will have to score efficiently to lead a winning offense in ball-dominant fashion, and the types of shots he favors aren’t statistically the most conducive in that regard. The likelihood he succeeds is bolstered by the fact he clearly loves to play, but the question is how much that style falls in line with winning games, and to what degree he’ll adjust over time. There’s concern about Ball’s defensive impact, but his size and instincts in the passing lanes should at least make him useful within a scheme. Fit here matters, as a team will need to hand him the keys to maximize his value, but the upside validates him as an early pick.”
Even with all his talent, a Raptors trade doesn’t make much sense. Not only would it require significantly more money to draft Ball, approximately $7 million more, which Toronto can’t afford if it wants to go after Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2021, but Ball doesn’t fit the Raptors’ mold.
Trading Kyle Lowry, the heart and soul of the Raptors, for such an unorthodox rookie who prides himself on offensive firepower instead of defence doesn’t sound like the kind of move the Raptors would be willing to make.
I suppose anything is possible, but I’d put the chances of a Raptors trade for Ball at pretty close to zero.