Teams That Should Trade Up in 2020 NBA Draft for LaMelo Ball
While each team would have to draw a line on what it's willing to give up, it should have the necessary assets to get a deal done.
We picked five teams that could use Ball's playmaking and star power and could also put together an attractive proposal to move up.
A Charlotte Hornets offense built around Devonte' Graham, Terry Rozier, Miles Bridges, P.J. Washington and Malik Monk packs little upside. There isn't star potential, and the Hornets aren't known for attracting high-profile free agents.
At No. 3, the Hornets could have a chance at James Wiseman, who fills a need at center. But Wiseman's scoring and passing skills aren't polished. He won't be able to do what Ball can for Charlotte's offense, which ranked No. 28 in the league.
The 6'7" playmaker and Washington would make for a strong pick-and-roll/pop duo, and Graham's ability to shoot and play off the ball could make him an interesting fit with LaMelo in the backcourt.
The Hornets might not have to offer much to move from No. 3 to No. 1 or No. 2. Along with their pick, Monk, Rozier, Nicolas Batum or Cody Zeller seems expendable and useful for either Minnesota or Golden State. Charlotte also owns the No. 32 pick (via Cleveland).
Charlotte could even attach Bridges to No. 3 and try to take Minnesota's No. 1 and No. 17 picks and/or a more useful role player like Josh Okogie, Jake Layman or Naz Reid.
Either way, trading up for Ball is worth exploring if the Hornets aren't sold on Wiseman or Anthony Edwards as a difference-maker.
After ranking No. 29 in the NBA in offense, the Chicago Bulls may want to improve their passing. An offense that ran through scorers Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen and Coby White didn't work. Chicago would be an ideal landing spot for Ball, who could play to his strengths as a playmaker without having to hunt or force shots in a lineup that has other creators and shot-makers.
The question for Chicago is what it will take to move up two or three spots. The most likely name to be thrown into talks would be Markkanen. His shooting should interest Golden State and Minnesota, and his lack of improvement may make Chicago question whether he's worth investing in long-term.
Ideally for the Bulls, the Warriors and Timberwolves admire a veteran like Thaddeus Young, who Chicago could pair with the No. 4 pick to move up in a deal.
A wilder proposal could include swapping picks as Andrew Wiggins comes to the Bulls and LaVine goes to Golden State.
Regardless, the Bulls have expendable assets and a need for a playmaker like Ball to set the table. There is a deal to be made if Chicago is motivated to get one done.
Derrick Rose and Blake Griffin are on different timelines than the rest of the roster, which lacks a prospect the Detroit Pistons can feel confident has a realistic chance at reaching stardom.
Detroit should be interested in Ball's star power and upside, and it should monitor the level of interest in Griffin from teams at the top of the draft. The Pistons may need Ball to fall to No. 3 and hope the Charlotte Hornets would like Griffin over Ball after Devonte' Graham's breakout season.
General manager Troy Weaver could also dangle No. 7 with Luke Kennard or Sekou Doumbouya to Minnesota, Golden State or Charlotte. A future first-rounder with protections may be worth thinking about offering in a deal as well.
The Pistons don't have any path to competing in the short term, and they're missing an exciting young prospect to realistically build around for the future. They aren't likely to get anyone too exciting at No. 7 in this draft either.
Ball would give Detroit its franchise point guard with 6'7" size and special passing skills. Taking his rookie season slowly while learning under Rose wouldn't be so bad for his development.
New York Knicks
The New York Knicks front office can't confidently say it has a star prospect on the roster. And it can't think the Knicks are favorites to land any in free agency. This could be the franchise's opportunity to move up and draft its point guard of the future in LaMelo Ball, as opposed to trading rebuilding assets for Chris Paul—who'll be valued more for mentorship and optics—or overpaying for Fred VanVleet, who shot 41.3 percent on a team that actually surrounded him with talent.
New York has draft picks to throw at the Minnesota Timberwolves or Golden State Warriors, including No. 8, No. 27 and No. 38, plus future Dallas Mavericks first-rounders that will likely wind up in the 20s.
And both teams could use perimeter defense, which could mean they'd show interest in Frank Ntilikina. While Knicks fans presumably admire Ntilikina's defense and low-maintenance attitude, neither has made New York any better through three seasons. While he still has room to improve, third-year numbers of 6.3 points, 3.0 assists and 39.3 percent shooting aren't enough for the team to hold on tightly.
The Knicks should not include their 2021 first-rounder, but if they're able to unload 2020 picks, a future Mavericks pick and Ntilikina (or Kevin Knox II) for the chance to draft Ball, it's a risk worth taking.
LaMelo would bring excitement back to Madison Square Garden, but more importantly, he's an elite-level passer who can jump-start the Knicks' bland offense and make the game easier for RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.
On a side note, I'd make Barrett or Robinson available in trade talks as well, but not with any of the Knicks' draft picks attached.
The Aaron Gordon-Nikola Vucevic connection has helped the Orlando Magic remain relevant enough to compete for the No. 8 seed while missing out on top draft picks.
It's time to make a change. And despite Markelle Fultz's marginal improvement, Orlando can't feel confident it has a quality, reliable starting point guard capable of elevating the roster.
Ball would give the Magic a different look with his pace, flair and playmaking. It also seems evident that Gordon shouldn't be counted on as a focal point of a winning offense. He may hold more value to the Timberwolves or Warriors. And if Ball slips to No. 3, Orlando could offer Vucevic to the Hornets. He'd be a good fit in Charlotte and could possibly bring back more than the draft pick.
If Orlando is reluctant to give up Vucevic, the Magic could try to use Fultz and Mohamed Bamba as a trade package.
This team should have enough expendable pieces to put together a creative proposal. It should also have the motivation to acquire a point guard who can inject life into an offense that has ranked in the 20s since 2012.