Two weeks ago, I decided to go watch LaMelo Ball and SPIRE play live and in person against St. Edwards in Lakewood. When I decided I wanted to write about him, I wasn’t exactly sure how I would go about it. I have more than a few takeaways now, so I’ll do my best to sum them as succinctly as possible.
He’s nothing special. ESPN recently came out with its rankings of the top 100 high school basketball prospects in 2019. Ball is ranked 13th overall in the class and a five-star recruit. I’ve seen several five-star recruits play in person, I’ve even played against a few myself. LaMelo Ball shouldn’t be considered one.
First off, I was rather underwhelmed by his skill set. His shot is horrendous, and it might be worse than that of his brother, Lonzo. When the ball leaves his hand, the rotation is reminiscent of a Tim Wakefield knuckleball. That said, it doesn’t matter how your shot looks as long as the ball still goes in the hoop consistently, but his doesn’t.
He’s a streaky shooter at best. With that, he doesn’t have elite quickness, and there were several times throughout SPIRE’s game against St. Edwards. That lack of explosiveness also impacts his ability to score, which led to him struggling to finish around the rim. Also, his defense left a lot to be desired, as it was lazy, disinterested and flat-out poor.
He doesn’t play hard, and why should he? He was given a Lamborghini as a gift for his 16th birthday, and is already living the life many high school hoopers dream of one day having when they make it to the Association — let alone in high school. It’d be impossible for him to muster up the type of motivation that some of those kids contain.
However, he is legit 6-foot-5 and possesses very good passing skills with even better court vision. More times than not, Ball will make the right play on offense, but I’m still not quite sure why he’s considered a future NBA prospect.
But … isn’t that the issue?
Look, the kid is good at basketball. He’s been offered scholarships to come play basketball at Division 1 institutes for free, something that hasn’t be offered to 99 percent of high school athletes. I think he has an outside chance to one day play in the NBA for a year or two.
When I say that “he’s nothing special,” that’s me directly disagreeing with the opinion from many scouts and basketball junkies that he’s one of the top basketball players in the world for his age and has legit star potential in the NBA. People are making him out to be something he is not. If it wasn’t for his infamous dad and the aura of the Ball family, he’d be just another good high school prospect, and there’s no shame in that.
He’s been put on such a pedestal that it’s nearly impossible for him to succeed. I wish Lamelo Ball the best, I truly do. But the expectations that have been cast upon him are completely unfair.
But then again, maybe he welcomes them. He is, after all, a Big Baller.
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