"Plenty of concerns from NBA teams about him," Ford said. "He's not an explosive athlete. He's been a really streaky shooter with poor form on a shot. He struggled as an on-the-ball defender and he carries some of that baggage of the Ball name with him as well. And that certainly is working against him."
The 18-year-old California native already owns two years of professional experience. He played for BC Prienai in the Lithuanian Basketball League during the 2017-18 season and joined the Illawarra Hawks of Australia's National Basketball League for a portion of the 2019-20 campaign.
He averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.7 threes and 1.6 steals across 12 NBL appearances for the Hawks. He suffered a foot injury in December that led him to leave Illawarra to return stateside for rehab and draft preparations.
Ball struggled with his shot in the NBL. He made just 37.5 percent of his field-goal attempts and 25 percent from three-point range.
The wide-ranging skill set combined with lackluster offensive efficiency and mediocre defense puts him on a similar path as his older brother, Lonzo Ball, the second overall pick in the 2017 draft.
His father, the outspoken LaVar Ball, downplayed concerns about his presence as it relates to LaMelo's draft stock during a March appearance on the Pardon My Take podcast (via Jacob Rude of USA Today).
"No. I couldn't be baggage," LaVar said. "But here's the thing: If you don't take my son (based) on how you feel about me, he ain't supposed to be there anyway. I'm not on the court. People like to make the narrative 'Oh he put pressure on them.' No, no, no. My sons wouldn't be where they're at without me."
Lonzo initially struggled to reach expectations with the Los Angeles Lakers. He was in the midst of a breakout season with the New Orleans Pelicans, averaging 12.4 points, 7.0 assists and 6.2 while shooting 38.3 percent from three, before the 2019-20 campaign was halted by the coronavirus pandemic, though.
LaMelo could follow a similar path as he works to develop his shooting stroke. His ability to stuff the stat sheet in other areas still makes him a likely instant-impact rookie.
Even if the concerns Ford referenced cause Ball to suffer a minor slide in the draft, which remains without a date as the NBA reworks its 2020 offseason schedule, it's unlikely he falls outside of the lottery, and it wouldn't be a surprise if he still ultimately lands in the top five.