Jalen Rose: Warriors Told LaMelo Ball They'd Pick Him No. 2 in 2020 NBA DraftMarch 9, 2021
Former NBA forward Jalen Rose said he was on a phone call between the Golden State Warriors and LaMelo Ball during the 2020 draft where the Dubs' front office told the point guard they were going to select him with the second overall pick.
Rose, who works on ESPN's NBA coverage, explained Monday on the Jalen & Jacoby podcast (via Ali Thanawalla of NBC Sports Bay Area) he relayed the information to his television producer only to see the Warriors select Memphis center James Wiseman instead.
"They told him they was taking him and they didn't do it. I was on the phone," Rose said. "... They told him they was goin' to take him."
The Charlotte Hornets proceeded to take Ball with the No. 3 pick.
Golden State was heavily linked to Wiseman during the pre-draft process because center was the most glaring need on its roster with the Splash Brothers, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, expected to return from injuries to join Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green in the starting lineup.
On Nov. 18, just hours before the draft tipped off, word started to circulate Thompson suffered a significant injury during a pickup game as he worked toward his return from a torn ACL. It was later confirmed as a torn Achilles that would sideline him for the entire 2020-21 campaign.
The uncertainty about his status as the draft started seemingly brought Ball into the conversation for the Warriors, who could slide him into Thompson's spot in the lineup.
Ball added to the buzz by posting a video to social media right before the draft holding up two fingers and saying "y'all see my fingers":
Wiseman was solid during the first half of his rookie season for the Warriors, averaging 11.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 26 games, but head coach Steve Kerr said he wanted to see more from the 7-foot post player on the boards after the All-Star break.
"Rebounding is about positioning, it's about anticipating and he should be getting better as he goes," Kerr told reporters. "The second half of the season will be really big for James and for us. For us to win, to be competitive, he has to be a force in the paint on the glass."
Meanwhile, Ball has overcome a sluggish start to become the favorite for Rookie of the Year honors, and it's started to raise questions about whether Golden State made the right pick.
He's averaged 15.8 points, 6.3 assists, 6.0 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 35 appearances. He's also shooting 37.8 percent from three-point range, which is a promising sign since that was one of the question marks about him heading into the draft.