Former NBA executive John Hollinger thinks that LaMelo Ball and D’Angelo Russell could play together for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The jury is still out on who the Minnesota Timberwolves might target with the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft.
There’s a consensus among mock drafts that the Wolves should take Georgia wing, Anthony Edwards. Our writers here at Dunking With Wolves largely disagree, and there’s a definite movement towards the possibility of the Wolves taking Illawarra Hawks guard LaMelo Ball at No. 1.
Now, former NBA executive John Hollinger has weighed in on the potential fit of Ball in Minnesota.
John Hollinger thinks LaMelo Ball is a fit with the Minnesota Timberwolves
The issue of Ball on the Timberwolves is chiefly the idea of pairing another lead guard with D’Angelo Russell, who was just acquired at the trade deadline and has had the chance to play exactly one game with superstar big man Karl-Anthony Towns.
The concern isn’t as much that there will be two guards that want the ball in their hands, but more that neither is known for their defense. Add in that Ball is a mediocre 3-point shooter at this point in his young career, and it’s understandable why there is apprehension to pair Ball and Russell in the same backcourt.
But on the Hollinger & Duncan NBA Show, former Memphis Grizzlies Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations and inventor of Player Efficiency Rating John Hollinger made a case for the Wolves taking Ball with the No. 1 pick (Wolves talk starts around the 1:07:45 mark.)
"I think the general perception is that LaMelo Ball is the best talent available. Now, are there some issues here with his potential fit with D’Angelo Russell? Yeah, maybe I mean, they’re both kind of ball-in-hand point guards and haven’t been too enthusiastic about playing defense. But I think because of their heights, I do think it’s possible for them to play together, if they can kind of work out how to be comfortable playing off the ball some of the time.…I don’t necessarily see that as a as a deal breaker for them, especially at the point they’re at, which it’s not like they’re not trying to refine their chemistry for a run at the championship right now. Right? They’re just trying to build up enough talent to have a halfway decent team. And until you get to that point, I think, I think you don’t really worry about fit issues and things like that as much. You’re just they’re still in town accumulation face, and they need to continue that."
Indeed, Russell and Ball are both big enough to at least disrupt what the opposition is trying to do offensively. They’re both intelligent players, too, and Ball doesn’t have the same athletic limitations that Russell has.
Remember, defensive coordinator David Vanterpool was the mastermind behind making Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum work together in Portland, and there is far more size in the potential Wolves pairing. The Wolves will be asking Vanterpool to work his magic again — that is, assuming he’s still with the team in 2021.
Hollinger’s other point is absolutely correct: the Wolves need to still be in talent acquisition mode. Even though the front office certainly believes that they have their two cornerstones already in place with Towns and Russell, until this team reaches the playoffs and shows real growth, it’s fair to presume that they should simply be acquiring as much topline talent as possible.
Chalk up another vote for the likelihood that the Wolves ultimately take the No. 1 player on the board, which is almost certainly LaMelo Ball.