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It’s Time to Start Talking About LiAngelo Ball as a Real NBA Prospect

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LiAngelo Ball has long been considered the forgotten brother out of LaVar’s three boys. Sandwiched between the Los Angeles Lakers’ No. 2 overall pick, Lonzo, and the 92-point, half court shooting, LaMelo — LiAngelo does not, and has not gotten the attention he deserves — until now. The question on many supporters of the Ball family is whether or not LiAngelo has the ability to play in the NBA. Personally, I was skeptical due to his size in high school with him being overweight. He doesn’t play above the rim and while he can shoot, has not shown the ability to do so off the bounce effectively.

However, a fire struck inside of LiAngelo and the pudgy frame he had as a senior for Chino Hills High School has shed to a much more solid build. In six LKL games for BC Vytautas, he is averaging 14.5 PPG, while shooting 44.4 percent on 3-pointers. If you subtract the first game, in which he played 9 minutes, that average goes up to 17.4 PPG.

Offensively, it’s quite obvious where LiAngelo’s strengths lie. He is supremely confident, which is why he is unafraid to shoot at any point in the game. He likes the ball in the post, and has shown to be quite effective at times against smaller guards. As previously mentioned, he has been efficient from the 3-point line thus far in the season as well.

Where LiAngelo must improve is on the defensive side as well as rebounding. In the games he played up to this point, he is only averaging two rebounds per game. For those who have watched him in high school, this is understandable, as he was never asked to do this due to the system he played. Now, with his size, two rebounds is inexcusable, and will need to increase to catch the eyes of more NBA scouts.

As for the defensive end, I’ve shared my sentiments on this before as LiAngelo has shown quick feet to match up with guards and has the size to hold his own in the post. However, he is often slow in his rotations playing off the ball, which have resulted in open shots.

The good thing is these shortcomings can be corrected. Keep in mind that he has not had a training camp to learn these assignments, and is doing so on the fly. While he is not very explosive, with his body, he can learn to position it in a way to grab more rebounds.

The consensus for Lonzo and LaMelo was clear early on. Both were projected as high-major college players who had a favorable shot at being NBA lottery picks. That projection was spot on for Lonzo, and LaMelo is primed to do the same when he is eligible. LiAngelo, however, is still proving his doubters wrong, and there is still a lot of ground to make up. With his family’s desire for him to join the Lakers, his options are limited with other teams not wanting to risk a draft pick on a player who won’t play for them. LaVar has stated this will be LiAngelo’s last year with Vytautas, therefore, the time is now for LiAngelo to show and prove his value.

With Lonzo already with the Lakers, I won’t be surprised if Magic Johnson at the least signs LiAngelo to a free agent deal and has him running with their G-League affiliate. Either way, LiAngelo is no longer the mid-major prospect many scouts evaluated him as. He’s arguably the best player on a professional team in a highly-respected league. It’s time we acknowledge Gelo as a NBA prospect and not just the brother of Lonzo and LaMelo.

Brandon Williams is the Editor in Chief for Fresh Sports TalkYou can follow him on Twitter @TalkinWithFresh, or “Like” him on Facebook.

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