Even if you're not a fan of the NBA, you likely know who LaMelo Ball is. With his brother, Lonzo, and father LaVar, both apart of the Big Baller Brand with LaMelo, big things are expected from LaMelo. Fans always will rave about his passing and height, but won't continue to talk about his other attributes, such as his dismal shooting from both the field and three point range (below 40% and below 30%). Let's talk about all his weaknesses and how it will affect him in the NBA.
First off, his shooting, I'm just going to get this out of the way now. LaMelo Ball's shot IQ and discipline are very poor as of now, and shooting form only makes matters worse. In the NBA, you need a quick form or an "above the head form ", which is what most players in the NBA have. LaMelo has neither. His form is slow, and he starts down low rather than up high where it is harder for defenders to block. Despite being 6'8, Ball struggles with finishing around the rim, as he shot a poor percentage in the paint as well. Ball's strength does not allow him to muscle the basketball in through contact, which draws more problems because he can't shoot the ball well either. When LaMelo gets near the paint, instead of taking it all the way into the hoop, he often shies away from contact and throws up an awkward floater or a weird jumper. The reason Ball shot so poorly was because he couldn't create his own shot. Due to his lack of strength and sometimes unnecessary ball handling on the perimeter, it was rather easy for above average defenders to hold him down on offense.
On defense, LaMelo is even worse than how I described him above. His lateral quickness and defensive read speed are quite slow. Ball finished in the 4th percentile for defending spot-up shots and below the 1st percentile for defending pick and rolls. If you are below the 1st percentile in guarding pick and rolls, you have a problem because a whole lot of teams run the pick and roll. This means he was one of the worst players in the league in defending one of the most common plays run in basketball.
Enough bad talk about LaMelo, let's talk about his upsides and the aspects of his game that will improve in the NBA. I previously talked about how when Ball gets near the paint, he throws up awkward floaters. This is true only when Ball has a defender in his face. Overall he hit 42.9% of his total taken floaters, which is a decent number, but will improve once he gets into training camp. A big problem with LaMelo is his shooting form, as I previously talked about. The only way I can describe the movement of his arms on his shot is a flail. He chicken wings his right arm out as he shoots it, and his legs go out in front of him and typically cross. If he can fix this form (again, if he works with shooting and player development coaches in training camp, they will certainly get this fixed) he will be a much better shooter from deep, trust me. The only problem with his floaters right now, is the fact that he often takes the floater too early. This is another thing that LaMelo can work on with player development coaches during training camp. Another object of his game that LaMelo can improve on in training camp is his ability to make ONE move and drive straight to the bucket. Ball has a problem where he is a little ambiguous going to the rim. He strings together way too many unnecessary dribbles, all to end in a poor shot. If LaMelo is determined and makes one, simple move to the hoop, much better things will happen, and we saw that in the NBL and even back to his day in Chino Hills. If he knows what he is going to do before he does it, rather than just winging it and making moves on the fly, he is a more dynamic finisher and is very crafty around the rim. As for LaMelo's defense, it can improve, but I think it's mostly up to him. Being in the NBL, it was LaMelo's first time having to play real defense. In his previous days, his team was just so good that he didn't have to worry about playing much defense because it really didn't matter that much. Now playing against grown men, LaMelo has to play defense, and we see that he is still slacking off out there on the court. The minimal effort he gives, standing up straight when a pick comes his way, letting the opponent drive right past you, these aren't coachable things, these are effort things. If LaMelo can't get these under control, then he likely won't last too long in the NBA. However, he can fix it, it's just a matter of if he wants to. One other player to watch like LaMelo is Michael Porter Jr. LaMelo and Porter Jr. have to realize that they're not always going to be the focal point of the offense, and they both have to work on improving their lateral quickness on defense and their ability to fight through screens. Again, it's all in the effort, does LaMelo want to put the real work in? We'll see how he ends up in his first game.
Overall, when it comes to the future, I don't think LaMelo will ever be a good defender. Some people say because of his height and wingspan, he'll be able to improve and guard multiple positions, but I just don't think so. LaMelo needs to get in the weight room right now if he expects to be able to guard 6'10 power forwards and 7'0 centers, and even if he bulks up, he won't have the defensive skill or IQ to guard effectively. Just to give you context, LaMelo is 6'8 and is 190 pounds. All in all, I see him being that second playmaker/scorer on whatever team he's on in the future, and as for an all-star appearance, the only way I could see it happening is the fans. Since the all-star participants are selected by fans, there is a realistic chance that LaMelo could be selected to the game, but as for talent, LaMelo's passing game is the only way he'll get there.
Until next time, remember, Lonzo Ball has developed into a solid player in the NBA coming out of the same environment that LaMelo is coming from, so I don't think we need to be concerned too much about where he is coming from. Thanks for reading!