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A case for Lamelo Ball: The Timberwolves’ should-be #1 draft pick


The Minnesota Timberwolves are a joke. Ever since losing legendary center Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics in 2007, despite sporting names like Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler and Karl Anthony Towns, all bonafide superstars in their own rights, Minnesota has struggled with relevancy. Over those 13 years, the T-Wolves have notched only one playoff berth, falling 4-1 to the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2017-2018 playoffs. The Timberwolves are the team that no one remembers, the one that is always forgotten in attempts to list off all 30 NBA teams.

Minnesota General Manager Scott Layden has a chance to change all that. Blessed by the ever malevolent and mischievous basketball gods, the Timberwolves had their ping pong ball combination pulled before anyone else’s, despite there only being a 14% chance of that happening, giving Layden control over the first overall pick in the upcoming 2020 NBA draft.

Unlike previous years, this upcoming draft class is not significantly top heavy. While there is certainly a top three, the skill dropoff between them and the rest of the available players is much less significant. While it can be said that this lack of an obvious top player is a detriment to the Timberwolves, the more optimistic way of looking at the situation is that Minnesota has much more flexibility with their premium pick.

Reports have emerged that Minnesota has narrowed its options down to two. Either they plan on selecting 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of University of Georgia Anthony Edwards, or they plan on trading the pick away. However, Layden should, in my humble opinion, consider a third option. He should consider drafting Lamelo Ball.

While the 6-foot-6 point guard did not play a minute of American college basketball, the former Chino Hills High School standout put up big numbers both overseas with the Latvian team Prenai as well as the Junior Basketball Association – a league run by his father LaVar Ball.

From a purely basketball point of view, this move would make sense. Lamelo has the potential to be an elite point guard in this league, which would allow him to not only dish the ball effectively inside to Karl Anthony Towns, but also would create a more than serviceable shooting tandem with recently acquired D’Angelo Russell.

However, even more than the on-court productivity that would come with Lamelo, the publicity would be huge. Despite a dip in recent months with brother Lonzo Ball having a down season with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Ball family over the past year has been outspoken within the NBA world. Sports media loves having patriarch LaVar talk as much as possible, and considering the sometimes absurd things he says, one can be sure that he would be hard to silence if his son was selected first overall in the NBA draft.

If the Timberwolves were to greenlight this pick, for the first time in a long time, people would treat the team as less of a punchline. For the first time in a long time, in a league full of historic organizations, the T-Wolves would not be overlooked. For the first time in a long time, people would actually talk about Minnesota’s basketball team.