Given their 24-40 record and ninth-place ranking in the Eastern Conference at the time the NBA suspended the 2019-20 season last month, the Washington Wizards have a chance at landing a high pick in this year’s NBA Draft Lottery. While it’s far from certain whether the team will be able to land a top prospect like Illawarra Hawks guard LaMelo Ball in this year’s draft, a new report looked at his potential fit with the Wizards, who had former All-Star John Wall as their lead playmaker before injuries took him out of action midway through the 2018-19 season.
After discussing Ball’s background as the younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, his strengths and weaknesses as a player, and his status as one of the top playmakers in the 2020 draft class, Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington revealed that the Wizards did “due diligence” on the 18-year-old and sent multiple scouts to Australia to watch him in action. As further explained, the team also benefited from the recent changes to its front office, which have resulted in better international scouting.
Talking about Ball’s potential fit if Washington drafts him, Hughes wrote that the youngster is the “most interesting question mark” in the class of 2020, given that he plays the same position as Wall and has a similar playing style. As noted by ClutchPoints, Wall has mostly lived up to expectations as a former No. 1 overall draft pick, averaging 20.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 8.7 assists in his abbreviated 2018-19 campaign. However, his ruptured Achilles poses the question of whether the Wizards should go for the best player available in the 2020 draft, even if it happens to be another point guard.
“Ball and Wall, despite holding potential for a cool nickname, likely wouldn’t be able to co-exist on the floor at the same time, at least initially,” Hughes speculated. “They are both at their best with the ball in their hands and don’t have the consistent outside jumper to complement each other.”
Conversely, ClutchPoints suggested that the ongoing small-ball trend in the NBA could allow Ball to start alongside Wall and Bradley Beal, should the Wizards miss the playoffs, get lucky in the draft lottery, and select the Australia-based guard. Most draft predictions have Ball ranked as a Top 5 prospect, alongside the likes of Georgia’s Anthony Edwards and Memphis’ James Wiseman.
Aside from those two scenarios, NBC Sports Washington‘s Hughes warned about the “worst-case” scenario for the Wizards and Ball — the possibility that the Wizards draft him, only for personality conflicts to emerge between him and his teammates. Also mentioned was the tendency of Ball’s father, Big Baller Brand co-founder and CEO LaVar Ball, to “throw gasoline on fire” and make controversial comments about his sons.