Ex-Warrior Bogut impressed by LaMelo, sees lofty potential originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Many have their doubts about LaMelo Ball and how the 19-year-old’s game will translate to the NBA, but Andrew Bogut isn’t one of them.
The former Warriors big man played this past season with the Sydney Kings of Australia’s NBL. He faced Ball’s Illawarra Hawks and can see why the electric guard is projected to be one of the top picks in the 2020 NBA Draft and could be ticketed for the Warriors.
“He has a chance to be a very good pro,” Bogut told Wes Goldberg of the Bay Area News Group. “His playmaking ability, when we played him, he seemed to make the right decisions every time down the floor.”
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Ball currently is projected as one of the top-three prospects in the draft, along with Georgia wing Anthony Edwards and Memphis center James Wiseman.
The Warriors own the rights to the No. 2 overall pick, and have the difficult task of finding a prospect who can both contribute to a title run next season and develop into the face of the franchise down the road.
Ball is a polarizing prospect. He’s a dynamic, but inefficient scorer who shot just 37 percent against lesser competition. An electric playmaker with troubling turnover issues. Ball’s defensive warts have most believing he isn’t high on the Warriors’ draft board, and some reports have Golden State preferring Deni Avdija over Ball.
Bogut understands there are question marks about Ball on the defensive end of the floor, but he chalks that up to youth and thinks, in the right situation, Ball can correct those issues.
“He obviously is very talented on the offensive end, just needs to step up defensively, but that’s probably just being a kid that’s never been taught defensive principles at 19 years old, so you got to give him the benefit of the doubt on that,” Bogut told Goldberg. “With six months to a year in an NBA system with some good coaching, I think they’ll clean up a lot of those deficiencies.”
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Many believe Ball wouldn’t fit well next to Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. But perhaps, the Warriors, a team with championship culture and a brilliant basketball mind in Steve Kerr at head coach, are the perfect team to get Ball to live up to his potential.
On the Warriors, Ball would not be saddled with carrying the offensive load. He wouldn’t have to force as many shots, and instead could rely on his passing and playmaking ability next to Curry and Thompson. He also could give the Warriors a second ball-handler off the bench, who they desperately need when Curry isn’t on the floor.
There’s no question Ball will be one of the first names called at the Nov. 18 draft. The upside is too high for him to slide that far. But he needs to go to the perfect situation that can foster growth early in his career.
As for the Warriors, they can only take Ball if they are sure he can be great. Otherwise, he’s a gamble best left for another team to bet on.