New York Knicks: Positives and Negatives of Drafting LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)
LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) /
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New York Knicks
LaMelo Ball, Illawarra Hawks. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) /



LaMelo Ball’s passing might very well be the most elite skill of any prospect in the entire draft. Ball averaged 6.8 assists per game despite his team having the worst field goal percentage in the league. On a team with better shooters, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the lanky point guard putting up double-digit assists this past season.

At 6’7″, Ball’s height helps him read cuts and movement happening all across the court. His basketball IQ definitely isn’t perfect, but his playmaking ability is the best in the draft.

Scoring Inside the Arc

While Lamelo Ball’s ghastly 37.5% shooting from the field is certainly not ideal, his numbers need some context. His field goal percentage is heavily weighed down by his poor shooting from deep. On solely two-point field goals, Ball hit at a solid rate of 46%.

Not only were the Illawarra Hawks the worst field goal percentage team, but they were also the worst three-point percentage team as they shot a combined 31%. Poor spacing was a huge part of why Ball couldn’t get in a rhythm on some nights, similar to how RJ Barrett struggled in his rookie year due to the terrible spacing the Knicks’ starting lineup provided.

Similar to his passing, Ball often used his height and speed combo to drive into the paint and finish over smaller defenders at the rim.

Late Season Improvement

Ball struggled early when adjusting to the life of a professional basketball player in a different country, but his late-season heroics are extremely promising for the future. In his last four games, he put up 24.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists per game on 42/32/71 shooting splits. The league-worst Hawks went a respectable 2-2 over that stretch.