Doesn’t it seem like the NBA season just ended? That’s because it did. It’s been one month since the Los Angeles Lakers won their 17th NBA Title, and due to this twilight zone type of year, the next season is coming quickly. With a tentative Dec. 22 start date, that gives teams a little more than a month to go through the draft, free agency, and training camp…and the Thunder still don’t have a head coach or a head assistant coach.
However, hiring a coaching staff couldn’t be more important than a late first-round draft pick, right? That would be the case if the Thunder weren’t rumored to be interested in drafting up to get the youngest of the Ball boys, LaMelo, but the chance to get a generational talent may switch up Sam Presti’s priorities a bit.
But I think he’s going to be working overtime to make a draft-night deal. Will it be for LaMelo Ball, though? That’s something I’m not willing to predict. I’m just here to address this specific rumor and reason out why it is or isn’t a good move to make.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been touted as the next elite point guard in Oklahoma City’s professional history books. He has the flare to be the next big star in OKC, and although he underwhelmed at times last season, his stats don’t lie, averaging 19.0 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game on 47.1 percent shooting. There’s a kicker, though. SGA looked like more of a shooting guard all season. He looked like a shooting guard that can handle the ball and run the offense when needed, but you didn’t get that franchise point guard feeling from him like you did in 2005 with Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook in 2008.
Not to say that SGA isn’t the future for this franchise – he is. He just may not be the best option for a franchise point guard. That’s where Ball could come in. After averaging 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 6.8 assists, Ball may be the all-around point guard Sam Presti is shopping for. The backcourt of Ball (6’7) and SGA (6’5) would be one of the tallest in the NBA and would match-up with OKC’s plans of going young and going athletic while also adding length in their backcourt defensively. Ball averaged 1.8 steals per game last season in Australia while Shai averaged 1.1.
Take out the personal bias when thinking about the Ball family and specifically, LaVar Ball. Look at LaMelo’s skill set, his upside, and his statistics. Everything checks out. For those that have questioned his character, those opinions mostly came when he was a minor. We all know how immature kids can be, but as an adult and as a professional, LaMelo has been a giver. He even donated a month of his NBL salary to the Australian bush fires. He’s still only 19.
Again, when messing with Sam Presti, you can’t predict things. He’s never made the obvious decision. Sometimes it’s frustrating, but most times it’s the right decision. I think he’ll make the right decision in this case…but the right decision depends on a plethora of things: Chris Paul and Dennis Schröder’s future in OKC is one of those things. If my opinion is warranted, I think this could be a risky but rewarding chance for the Thunder to take if the pieces come together to trade up from the 25th pick.