Grading the NBA Fantasy League’s Minnesota Timberwolves GM

DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 07: Cassius Stanley #2 of the Duke Blue Devils. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 07: Cassius Stanley #2 of the Duke Blue Devils. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, LaMelo Ball
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 30: LaMelo Ball of the Hawks. (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images) /

Round 1, Pick 2 – The star-powered backcourt is complete

Pick Analysis. Illawarra. LaMelo Ball. player. 86. Stat Profile. Point Guard. 2

The star-hungry GM made his intentions known from the jump.

It’s safe to say that with his job performance thus far, Barflaan has my endorsement.

LaMelo Ball undeniably raises the ceiling for the Wolves in 2020 and beyond.

Ball unquestionably has the highest basketball IQ of any guard in the 2020 class and is arguably its top playmaker, too. Combine that with range that goes out to the parking lot, a consistent array of floaters, runners, and layup shots at his disposal, plus an unmatched frame, and you have an incredibly enticing guard prospect.

Ball and has great size at the 1, standing 6-foot-7 tall at 185 pounds, and has a projected wingspan that approaches seven feet. These factors should enable him to be a more than competent defender if he puts the effort in.

The Stepien’s Spencer Pearlman shows an example of what LaMelo is capable of when he flips the switch on defense.

While his defense was largely terrible during his time in the NBL – he gave up 1.278 points per possession as the primary defender this season, good for the 7th percentile in the league, per Synergy – he has length and basketball IQ that simply cannot be developed and moldable ability on defense as a point-of-attack defender.

The other intriguing aspect of Ball’s game is his prospects to play alongside D’Angelo Russell. While both have skills that would translate well to a part-time off-ball, such as movement shooting, understanding of floor spacing, and incredibly high basketball IQs, Russell is likely the player who would spend more time off-ball, since he has found success in Minnesota playing as the 2 in two-point-guard lineups with Jordan McLaughlin. (More about that here.)

Ball is creative in the pick and roll and has A+ vision, which would pair exceptionally well with the most dynamic offensive big man in the NBA in pick-and-roll actions while being flanked by two five-alarm fire shooters in Russell and Malik Beasley. LaMelo graded out most favorably by Synergy in possessions with pick-and-roll-centric actions, which generated 0.846 points per possession, good to earn him an “average” rating league-wide.

If he was relegated to the second unit, he would immediately elevate the play of every other player on the floor with his knack for getting teammates the ball in their spots. He still has a ways to go as a scorer at the NBA level, so he could not justifiably be the second unit’s go-to bucket-getter, but still offers a ton of value as a pass-first point guard who can get into the lane and make life easier, offensively, for everyone he plays with.

Ball shot just 27.9 percent from deep as a member of the Illawarra Hawks, but has shown the ability to knock down tough, contested jumpers when he is in a rhythm. I expect him to be less liberal with his shot selection in the NBA and more of a playmaker at first, which should give credence to the notion that he can make a positive impact from the first moment he checks into an NBA game.

The former Chino Hills High School superstar is widely considered a top-three pick in this year’s draft, and considering the Wolves need for additional shooting, primary and secondary playmaking, and high-potential additions, Ball fits like a glove. His defense and motor are still concerns for me, and I personally prefer adding a guy like Okongwu into the mix (even though Rosas would never do that), but snagging Ball at No. 2 is great value.