5 Realistic LaMelo Ball Trade Ideas for 2020 NBA Draft Night
At 6'7" and just 19 years old, Ball has elite size and vision at the position and has already played professionally in Australia. While he's far from a perfect prospect with questionable shot mechanics and poor defensive habits, he could wind up being the best player from this draft class and will almost certainly be taken with one of the first two picks.
He's not a good fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves (D'Angelo Russell) or Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry) since those two teams, the first up in the draft order, possess All-Star and MVP point guards. That means we could well see a trade up from a team looking to make Ball its franchise floor general.
For the following five teams, each of which could look to trade for Ball, these are the deals that would benefit all involved.
Chicago Bulls Receive: 2020 No. 2 overall pick (LaMelo Ball)
Golden State Warriors Receive: 2020 No. 4 overall pick, PF Thaddeus Young, C Daniel Gafford
The Bulls wouldn't have to move up very far from their current No. 4 spot, and the Warriors could get a better fit for their roster at a cheaper salary slot by moving down.
Ball would be a terrific fit in Chicago, a young team in need of a pass-first guard that will put plenty of scorers around him. The Bulls ranked just 20th in assist percentage this season (58.7 percent), leading to a 29th-ranked offense (105.8 offensive rating) that only bested the injury-plagued Warriors.
While Tomas Satoransky did a decent job as the starting point guard, Ball would be an immediate upgrade who could raise the ceiling of all the young talent around him. Head coach Billy Donovan spent time with Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander while with the Oklahoma City Thunder, helping Westbrook win MVP in 2016-17 and Paul become an All-Star this past season even at age 35.
By only giving up Young and Gafford, the Bulls would maintain all their key pieces (Zach LaVine, Coby White, Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr.) and come away with the draft's best point guard.
The Warriors could take in Young and Gafford without sending out any salary thanks to the Andre Iguodala trade exception ($17.2 million), and they could have their pick of at least one of James Wiseman, Onyeka Okongwu and Isaac Okoro at No. 4.
Detroit Pistons Receive: 2020 No. 1 overall pick (LaMelo Ball)
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: 2020 No. 7 overall pick, 2021 second-round pick (via Los Angeles Lakers), G/F Luke Kennard
Detroit is clearly rebuilding, yet it doesn't possess any young star to actually build around just yet.
Ball would breathe some life into a franchise that finished dead last in attendance rate this season and could help make the team competitive in the short term with Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose still around.
Moving up from the No. 7 spot all the way to No. 1 would certainly cost Detroit, however, with Kennard looking like a reasonable asking price. The 24-year-old averaged 15.8 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 39.9 percent from three for the Pistons this season and could serve as floor-spacer for the Timberwolves between D'Angelo Russell and Karl-Anthony Towns.
For the Wolves, getting Kennard would be like receiving an extra first-round pick, one who's already proved himself as a talented outside shooter and developing passer in the NBA. Players like Obi Toppin, Devin Vassell and Onyeka Okongwu could all be available at No. 7, and they'd give Minnesota a better roster fit than Ball.
Detroit could stay put and still get a point guard like Tyrese Haliburton or Cole Anthony, but Ball would be a big upgrade over either and give the franchise its first real future star to build around.
New York Knicks
New York Knicks Receive: 2020 No. 2 overall pick (LaMelo Ball)
Golden State Warriors Receive: 2020 No. 8 overall pick, 2021 first-round pick (via Dallas Mavericks), PG Dennis Smith Jr., F/C Taj Gibson
Landing at No. 8 in the lottery was a disappointment for New York, but the team has the extra draft picks to try moving up to get Ball.
Point guard is a major need for a team that tried out Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Elfrid Payton and even RJ Barrett at times this past season, and Ball has the star quality the Knicks should covet. A core of Ball, Barrett and Mitchell Robinson would be a great start for an organization once again looking to lure a big free agent in 2021.
The Warriors would use their $17.2 million trade exception from the Andre Iguodala trade to take on the salaries of Smith and Gibson without having to send any players back. The latter would give the Warriors a playoff-tested veteran who provides depth at center, and putting the former, still 22 years old, in Golden State's culture should allow him to retain a chance at stardom.
As a team looking to stock up on trade assets to make a run at a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo or Ben Simmons (should they become available), the Warriors would get an extra first-round pick and would still land a good prospect at No. 8.
Orlando Magic Receive: 2020 No. 2 overall pick (LaMelo Ball), SF Andrew Wiggins, SG Jordan Poole, C Kevon Looney
Golden State Warriors Receive: C Nikola Vucevic, PG Markelle Fultz
If the Magic don't want to be stuck in basketball purgatory forever, they may need to take a step back before they can make a giant leap forward. Already losing Jonathan Isaac for the 2020-21 season due to a torn ACL should make Orlando think about a mini-rebuild anyway.
Unlike previous trade proposals, this isn't a trade-back situation. Orlando would get to keep the No. 15 overall pick while also getting the No. 2 overall selection to take Ball, even if it means giving up two starters, one of whom is the team's best overall player.
The Warriors would be better off flipping the No. 2 overall pick for a player who can help now, and Vucevic would give them an All-Star center who averaged 19.6 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 33.9 percent from three this past season.
Getting Fultz, 22, to be the team's backup point guard would help keep the title window open if he can continue the development we saw from him in Orlando this past season, and learning from Stephen Curry and Steve Kerr every day should help turn the 2017 No. 1 overall pick into a star. Getting off Wiggins' contract would be a blessing, as well.
For an Orlando team that features plenty of young talent in the frontcourt (Isaac, Aaron Gordon, Mo Bamba), Ball would be the perfect complement at point guard. Throwing lobs to Gordon and using Bamba's screens to free up enough space for his feathery-touch floaters, he would raise the games of all those around him.
With no bad contracts on the roster, taking on Wiggins, 25, could be worth the gamble if he can play like he did at the beginning of last season (24.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 44.6 field-goal percentage in his first 26 games), and Poole (21) and Looney (24) would help give Orlando some additional young talent.
Phoenix Suns Receive: 2020 No. 1 overall pick (LaMelo Ball), PF James Johnson
Minnesota Timberwolves Receive: 2020 No. 10 overall pick, F Kelly Oubre Jr., G Ty Jerome
This could be the last lottery trip the Suns make for a while, especially if confidence from an 8-0 record in the bubble can spill over into next season.
Ball would find himself in the perfect situation in Phoenix, zipping passes to a talented young core while letting Devin Booker assume the scoring pressure from the start. He could even come off the bench to begin his NBA career since Ricky Rubio is still playing at a high level.
Rubio, 29, carries similar qualities to Ball. He's long been one of the NBA's best and most creative passers, yet he has never developed a potent scoring attack of his own. He's a talented defender, and going against him every day in practice should only help accelerate Ball's career.
A core of Ball, Booker, Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson and Deandre Ayton would provide a good balance of scoring, playmaking, outside shooting and defense as the Suns continue to grow.
Oubre, 24, would fit Minnesota's rebuild and can play either forward position. He averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.3 steals while shooting 45.2 percent from the field in 2019-20 and would immediately become a starter for the Wolves.
Players like Obi Toppin, Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell could all still be available for Minnesota at No. 10, and Jerome was a first-round pick by Phoenix in 2019.