The Big Baller Brand is bringing another one of the heirs to that throne into the NBA. Much like the older brother, Lonzo, LaMelo is entering the NBA Draft with a ton of buzz and super high expectations. Many Hoops Heads around the world have been waiting on this Ball brother to enter the draft as many believe he is the more talented player.
Per NBA.com’s draft profile, LaMelo has been considered a future NBA player since his freshman year where he teamed with his brothers LiAngelo and Lonzo winning a state championship. He has grown to 6’7″” inches and plays the Point Guard Position.
This dude is a freaking 6’7″ Point Guard weighing 190 pounds. So, he’ll have nearly the length of Lebron James and like 70 pounds less muscle coming in at 19 years old. You have to imagine he’ll add some weight to that frame once he gets into a NBA Strength Training Program.
The scouting report mentions he has a great NBA ready ability to read the floor and his sheer length makes it easier for him to make passes over the top of defenses many others cannot. While he has great innate skills, he is not a dynamic athlete per NBA Standards. However, we’ve seen other PGs come in with less than NBA-average athleticism such as Steve Nash who was incredible as a Point Guard, but not exactly in possession of blow you away athleticism.
A couple other notes to consider with LaMelo, he excels at drawing defenders with his handle of the basketball and has the ability to get off a lightning-fast release jumper with the ability to both step-back and pull-away.
Much like his brother Lonzo, he is an inconsistent shooter. He also does not seem to have a burst that allows him to blow by defenders and score easily at the rim. The NBA scouts most worry about his ability to score efficiently.
Another issue that the NBA worries about is his defensive ability. He has a ton of length, but doesn’t seem to possess the same defensive ability as his brother Lonzo.
My Takes Based On Highlight Reels
I don’t see the concern about his lack of burst. Based on what he was able to do during the 2019 NBL Season, it looks like he is able to get to the rim fairly well. The key for LaMelo is that he puts enough pressure on the defense that forces them to collapse on him driving to the rim or have to closeout on him when he is feeling his jumper. His passing ability is going to make him very, very difficult to defend at the next level.
I consider some of these concerns to be things that you’d maybe worry about with Luka Doncic or Nikola Jokic. Obviously, two very different players and positions, but similar in some ways based on early concerns we heard about each.
There was concern about Luka’s athletic ability and the weight he carried. Even this year, we read stories about Luka being overweight and out of shape heading into the bubble. Clearly, as the man averaged nearly 29 points per game with 8 boards and 8 assists, it didn’t really matter.
Lets also think about Jokic here. Jokic isn’t athletic at all. He legitimately hits an old man at your local YMCA pickup game, flat-footed turnaround jumper. Nearly everything the man does looks incredible uncomfortable and unathletic.
Both of these guys have such a dynamic ability to pass that their scoring becomes a much bigger issue. Mind you, nobody expects LaMelo to score as well as Luka. Luka’s athleticism is deceptive and he handles the ball so well that he’s going to get to the rim base on his dribbling display. OH WAIT, isn’t that what the scouting report says about LeMelo’s handle of the basketball? Luka and Jokic can pass their way into open buckets because you have to pick your poison; do you let Jokic pick you apart and get his shooters going or do you try to defend him straight up down low and hope he has an off scoring night? With Luka, do you try to closeout on his step-back jumpers, double him to keep him from getting to the rim or pass out of the double team or do you allow him to setup all of those dynamic shooters he has around him?
LaMelo will possess a similar ability especially if he ends up not going #1 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Best Fit, Where He’s going
Currently, Anthony Edwards is the favorite to join Karl Anthony Towns in Minnesota. A dynamic scorer and efficient passer in his own right, Anthony Edwards is the Vegas favorite to go #1 overall right now.
However, many analysts have long predicted that LaMelo go #1 overall to Minnesota. While he would be a decent fit there with his ability to pass and put pressure on the defense going to rim allowing KAT to wreak havoc, his best fit has to be going #2 overall to the Golden State Warriors.
The Splash Brothers will return next year as will Draymond Green. If the Warriors keep their pick, its hard to think of many other players that fit better in an off-guard position for the Warriors than LaMelo. While LaMelo is accustomed to running the point, taking pressure off of Steph Curry would be a wonderful wrinkle to add to that dynamic offense. With Klay having the length and defensive ability to play and defend from the wing, LaMelo fits in as an off-guard that can run the offense allowing Steph to run around screens, set rubs or picks to get himself open. Imagine an offense that allows Klay and Steph to run around screens to give themselves the option to have wide-open looks from deep. Terrifying.
I’m starting to subscribe to the notion that this is going to be a likely scenario.
If you enjoyed this piece, please check back every day until the draft as I will provide draft profiles for each of the top 30 prospects in this year’s NBA Draft up until draft day itself!