Last night was a very good night for Golden State, as the Warriors landed the number two pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. For Warriors fans disappointed they did not win the lottery, just remember, the Dubs approximately had a 72 percent chance of not getting either the first OR second pick in the draft, so they should be feeling thankful to be so lucky.
With the order of the lottery selections in place, mock drafts now can start honing in on exact team needs and what insiders are hearing in regards to an organization’s interest, or lack thereof, in certain prospects.
The most polarizing prospect of them all, LaMelo Ball, has been rumored to be anywhere from the first overall pick to later in the top ten. So should the Warriors hope that Minnesota skips over him, allowing them to snag him second?
The talent is real and obvious. Ball is a 6-foot-7 guard that is incredible in space and pushing the fast break. He’s a tremendous passer and can create for his teammates by making the defense scramble through penetrating and finding the open man. He’s also adept at meeting the ball at its highest point for rebounds, something that can be a great asset for a team coming from the guard position. His ceiling might be higher than any other prospect out there. But then comes the question marks.
Ball shot a poor 37.5 percent from the field while playing professionally in Australia last season, along with a meager 25 percent from deep. Ball is happy to settle for a long-range shot, shooting nearly seven 3’s per game, so converting those shots at such a low efficiency is glaring.
“I see his talent,” Hall of Fame inductee Chris Mullin remarked on the Runnin’ Plays podcast, “the biggest thing to me will be his work ethic, because to improve your shooting, there is only one way to do it, that’s to put the time in.”
[RUNNIN’ PLAYS PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]
Like any young raw prospect, Ball, who turns 19 years old this week, will need to prove to teams that he can be the hard-working professional off the court that is expected of NBA players. He needs to prove to teams that he can put in a great deal of effort on the court as well, specifically on the defensive end of the floor.
In order to reach his ceiling, Ball will need to use his tremendous size from the guard position, to become a lengthy and athletic defender that potentially can cover the opponent’s point guard all the way to small forward. He has yet to show this important aspect of his game.
The Warriors are in need of players that can help them win right now, as their roster is built to make a run for the title. If the team intends on keeping their pick and selecting a player at number two in the draft, more likely than not that player will be coming off the bench as the starting unit for 2020-21 is pretty solidified.
According to Mullin, coming off the bench is not a simple task though, saying “Whoever they get, they can plug in, [but] I think what it comes to is who Steve and Bob really trust when you talk about the bench. What you want is someone you know what you’re going to get from them.”
Therein lies the problem. Two of the most crucial needs for the Warriors if they are serious about filling out a roster that can contend in the Finals, are reliable and consistent defenders to go along with shooters off the bench, two things that Ball has not proven to be yet. The potential is there, perhaps to even be a future All-Star, but how long are the Warriors willing to wait for that potential to come to fruition?
If they are trying to win now, then it would be hard to draft Ball and use a major asset like the second overall pick on someone that is not ready right away. If he falls to them, perhaps the Warriors can hope that his dynamic playmaking ability can help enough in the short term to overcome the inefficiencies in his game. But what if he simply is not ready yet?
Oh yeah, and then there’s his dad …